7 Surprising Sleep Foods That Will Help You Sleep Better

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Plate of Sandwiches

Getting enough sleep is crucial for staying healthy and feeling good during the day. Our bodies repair themselves and our brains sort through information while we sleep. Yet, many people struggle with sleep issues like having trouble falling asleep, waking up often during the night, or feeling tired in the morning.

Good news: certain foods have sleep-promoting properties that can help. These aren’t your usual sleep aids like warm milk or tea; they are everyday foods with special nutrients that encourage better sleep.

This article will reveal seven surprising sleep foods that help you sleep better. From the protein-packed turkey that may leave you sleepy after a big meal to some unexpected fruits and nuts, these foods could be the key to a restful night.

A plate of turkey. Example of sleep Foods

Turkey is often associated with feeling sleepy, especially after a big holiday meal. This effect is due to an amino acid called tryptophan, which is found in high amounts in turkey.

How Tryptophan Affects Sleep

Tryptophan is important for sleep because it helps in the production of two key substances:

  • Serotonin: Tryptophan is converted into serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of well-being and relaxation.

  • Melatonin: Serotonin then undergoes further conversion into melatonin when it gets dark outside. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles.

Nutritional Benefits of Turkey

Aside from its potential sleep-inducing effects, turkey also offers several nutritional benefits:

  • Protein: Turkey is a great source of lean protein, which is essential for repairing the body and maintaining muscle mass.

  • Vitamins & Minerals: It contains B-vitamins needed for energy production and vital minerals like zinc and selenium that support immune function.

Creative Ways to Include Turkey in Your Diet

Eating turkey doesn’t have to be reserved only for Thanksgiving. Here are some interesting ways to incorporate more turkey into your meals:

  • Turkey Wraps: Use thinly sliced turkey as a wrap filled with veggies and hummus for a light lunch.

  • Turkey Salad: Add chunks of cooked turkey breast to salads with spinach, nuts, and a sprinkle of cheese.

  • Stuffed Turkey Peppers: Bake bell peppers filled with ground turkey and quinoa for a satisfying dinner.

Remember, enjoying turkey in moderation as part of a balanced diet can contribute to overall health and potentially improve sleep quality.

2. Tart Cherries

A box of juicy tart cherries sitting on a table, surrounded by vibrant green leaves. A delicious summer treat!

Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Including tart cherries in your diet can have the following benefits for sleep:

  • Improved sleep duration: Studies suggest that tart cherries can help you sleep for longer periods of time.

  • Enhanced sleep quality: Not only might you sleep longer, but the rest you get is likely to be more restorative.

How Tart Cherries Help with Sleep

The melatonin in tart cherries helps regulate your internal clock for better sleep patterns. Your body uses this signal to prepare for rest, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. This can be especially helpful for people who have trouble with irregular sleep schedules or insomnia.

Ways to Include Tart Cherries in Your Diet

Here are some simple and tasty ways to enjoy tart cherries:

  • Drink a glass of tart cherry juice before bedtime.
  • Add dried tart cherries to trail mix or yogurt as a pre-sleep snack.
  • Make a tart cherry sauce to go with meats for dinner.

By adding tart cherries to what you eat, you may discover a delicious and natural method to enhance both how long and how well you sleep.

3. Kiwi

Fresh kiwi fruit in a bowl on a wooden table

A bite into a juicy kiwi can do more for your sleep than you might think. This small, bright green fruit is surprisingly powerful in promoting better sleep. But how exactly does it work?

The secret lies in its unique combination of nutrients. Kiwi is rich in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle. With higher levels of serotonin, your body can experience faster sleep onset – meaning you’ll fall asleep quicker.

Moreover, a study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that participants who consumed two kiwis before bed over a four-week period experienced longer sleep duration and improved sleep efficiency. The cause? It could be attributed to the antioxidants found in kiwis, specifically vitamin C and carotenoids which are known to reduce inflammation and promote better sleep.

So next time you’re planning your nighttime snack, why not consider having a couple of kiwis? You might just find yourself drifting off to dreamland quicker and staying there longer.

4. Fatty Fish

Fresh raw tuna on wooden table.

Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and trout, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for maintaining overall health and particularly beneficial for sleep quality. These fish help sleep in several ways:

How Fatty Fish Can Improve Your Sleep

1. Omega-3s and Sleep Hormones

Omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, contribute to the regulation of sleep patterns by supporting the production of melatonin, the hormone that signals your body it’s time to sleep.

2. Reduced Inflammation

The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s may improve sleep by reducing pain and discomfort that can disturb rest.

3. Vitamin D

Fatty fish is also a good source of vitamin D, which plays a role in sleep regulation.

Research suggests that individuals who consume higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids tend to have better quality sleep. This might be because these acids can increase the length of restful sleep stages.

How to Incorporate Fatty Fish Into Your Diet

To reap the benefits for your sleep:

  • Include Fatty Fish in Dinners: Plan meals with fatty fish a few times a week.

  • Grilled or Baked Options: Opt for healthy cooking methods like grilling or baking to preserve the nutrients.

While many factors contribute to a good night’s rest, incorporating fatty fish into your diet can be a step towards more peaceful slumber.

5. Almonds and Walnuts

A mix of nuts and dried fruit.

When it comes to foods that can help improve your sleep, nuts are often overlooked. But there are two types of nuts in particular—almonds and walnuts—that can actually play a role in promoting better sleep.

How Almonds Can Help You Sleep Better

Packed with nutrients, almonds contain a significant amount of magnesium, which is essential for muscle relaxation and stress reduction. Adequate levels of magnesium can improve sleep quality, especially for those who suffer from insomnia. Almonds also boost melatonin production, the hormone responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle.

Why Walnuts Are Good Sleep Food

Just like almonds, walnuts are also a great source of melatonin—the hormone that helps regulate sleep. What makes them unique though is that they also offer a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids and linolenic acid, compounds that might encourage the production of serotonin—a neurotransmitter that aids in the sleep process.

Incorporating a handful of almonds or walnuts into your daily diet could be a simple yet effective way to enhance your sleep. Adding them to salads, yogurts or enjoying them as an evening snack are easy ways to get their benefits.

So the next time you’re looking for a healthy snack option, consider reaching for some almonds or walnuts. Not only are they delicious, but they could also help improve your sleep!

6. Chamomile Tea

A soothing cup of chamomile tea, perfect for relaxation and stress relief.

Chamomile tea is a popular drink before bed, and for good reason. This herbal tea is well-known for its ability to ease the mind and relax the body. Here’s how chamomile tea can be part of your sleep-improving diet:

  • Anxiety Reduction: Chamomile contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in the brain. This action may help reduce anxiety, which often interferes with sleep.

  • Relaxation: Sipping a warm cup of chamomile tea can increase your sense of relaxation, preparing your body for sleep.

  • Sleep Quality: Studies suggest that chamomile tea not only helps you fall asleep more quickly but may also enhance the overall quality of your rest.

Enjoying a cup of chamomile tea each evening can become a calming ritual. By making it part of your nightly routine, you set the stage for a restful night’s sleep.

Other Sleep Foods

While turkey, tart cherries, kiwi, fatty fish, almonds, walnuts, and chamomile tea are known for their sleep-promoting qualities, several other foods can also play a role in helping you achieve a better night’s rest:

  • Pumpkin Seeds: Rich in magnesium, which is important for quality sleep. Magnesium helps the brain to settle down at night.

  • Cheese: Contains tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin and melatonin.

  • Passionflower Tea: Like chamomile tea, passionflower tea is another herbal drink that may improve sleep by boosting GABA levels in the brain.

  • Dairy Products: Milk and yogurt are not only high in calcium but also helpful in producing melatonin. Warm milk has long been a traditional sleep aid.

  • Bananas: Packed with potassium and magnesium, bananas can help relax muscles and nerves and also contain tryptophan.

  • Oatmeal: Just like rice, oatmeal is high in carbohydrates and has been reported to induce drowsiness when consumed before bed.

  • Rice: White rice has a high glycemic index, which could shorten the time it takes to fall asleep.

By adding these foods to your diet in moderation, you may find they assist your journey towards more restful nights.

Incorporating Sleep Foods Into Your Routine

A woman peacefully sleeping on a bed with fluffy pillows.

Eating sleep foods that help you sleep is a natural way to enhance your rest. Here are ways to make these foods part of your life:

Include Turkey in Your Meals

  • Swap out your usual lunch meat for turkey in sandwiches or salads.
  • Have a small serving of turkey with dinner a few hours before bedtime.

Snack on Tart Cherries or Drink Cherry Juice

  • Keep dried tart cherries on hand for an evening snack.
  • Sip on a small glass of tart cherry juice after dinner.

Make Kiwi Your Go-To Fruit

  • Slice kiwi into your morning yogurt or cereal.
  • Enjoy kiwi as a refreshing dessert after meals.

Opt for Fatty Fish Dinners

  • Schedule salmon, mackerel, or trout for dinner 2-3 times a week.
  • Grill, bake, or broil fatty fish to retain the omega-3 benefits.

Snack on Nuts

  • Mix almonds and walnuts into trail mixes or oatmeal.
  • Have a handful of these nuts as an evening snack.

Drink Chamomile Tea Before Bed

  • Brew a warm cup of chamomile tea as part of your nighttime routine.
  • Consider replacing your late-night coffee with chamomile tea.

Balanced Diet and Sleep Habits Matter: While adding these sleep foods to your diet can improve sleep quality, maintaining a balanced diet overall is essential. Pairing these foods with healthy sleep habits—like keeping a consistent sleep schedule and creating a restful sleeping environment—magnifies their benefits. By integrating these changes into your daily routine, you set the stage for better rest each night.


Trying out sleep foods can make a big difference in your evening routine. The top foods to eat before bed listed here are not just delicious but could also be what your body needs to sleep better.

Although these foods have their benefits, if you’re consistently having trouble sleeping, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice. What you eat can greatly affect how well you sleep, and making small adjustments to your meals could result in the peaceful nights you’ve been longing for.


Can I eat these foods right before bedtime?

It’s best to consume sleep-friendly foods a couple of hours before you go to sleep. Eating immediately before bed can lead to discomfort and disrupt your sleep.

Will these foods cure my insomnia?

While these foods may improve sleep quality, they are not a cure for insomnia. Persistent sleep troubles should be addressed with a healthcare professional.

How much turkey should I eat for better sleep?

A small serving, such as a slice or two of turkey, is sufficient. The goal is not to overeat but to get enough tryptophan.

Are there any side effects of eating tart cherries?

Tart cherries are generally safe. However, if you have allergies or are taking certain medications, it’s wise to consult with a doctor first.

Can I take melatonin supplements instead of these foods?

Melatonin supplements can help with sleep but should be used under guidance from a healthcare provider. Foods containing melatonin offer a natural alternative.

Do almonds and walnuts help with sleep if I have a nut allergy?

If you have a nut allergy, it’s crucial to avoid almonds and walnuts. Other foods on the list can be beneficial for sleep without risking an allergic reaction.

Remember, incorporating these foods into your diet should complement good sleep practices like maintaining a regular sleep schedule and creating a restful environment.

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Deepsomnia Team

We are a team of dedicated "sleeperts" who are here to help you and your loved ones sleep better. Sleep Well, Live Well!

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