Nutrition Tips to Improve Your Sleep

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Healthgrades Editorial Staff on December 18, 2020

You probably know practicing good sleeping habits can help you get a better night's rest. Things like maintaining a regular sleep schedule and keeping your bedroom dark have been proven to help. But did you know that what you eat can influence your slumber, too? Eating a light snack no later than a half hour before bedtime may help. Here are some foods to try (and a few to avoid).

  • Man drinking milk
    Your grandmother was right: Milk may make you drowsy, thanks to tryptophan—an amino acid that promotes sleep. The brain uses tryptophan to make serotonin and melatonin, two hormones involved in sleep and wake cycles. Not into milk? Other dairy products, like cheddar cheese, are high in tryptophan, too.
  • iStock_000009875971Small
    If you're trying to improve sleep, it may be time to ditch the low-carb diet. That's because eating carbohydrates makes sleep-promoting tryptophan more available to the brain. Double up your efforts at a good night's sleep and pair your carbs with other foods that may induce sleep. Think cereal and milk or cheese and crackers.
  • Cherries
    Tart cherries are a dietary source of melatonin—an important hormone involved in the sleep cycle. Studies suggest that people who drink a glass of tart cherry juice before bed tend to sleep better. Other fruits, including pineapples and oranges, have also been found to boost natural levels of melatonin in the body.
  • Nuts
    Nuts are full of sleep-promoting potential. Almonds contain magnesium, a mineral that helps relax muscles and plays an important role in regulating sleep. Peanuts are rich in tryptophan. And walnuts contain melatonin. Try eating a handful of nuts or spread nut butter on toast before bed.
  • banana
    Bananas are a powerhouse of nutrition. Not only are they packed with magnesium and tryptophan that may promote sleep, but they also offer potassium, which can ward off painful leg cramps that can wake you up at night.
  • white tea, tea, herbal tea
    Finding ways to relax can help you get a better night's sleep. To chill out, try drinking hot tea, such as chamomile tea, in the evening. It's shown to have stress-reducing properties. Just be sure the tea you choose is decaffeinated.
  • Alcohol
    Avoid Diet Pitfalls
    Eating the right foods can aid in better sleep. But the wrong foods can sabotage your efforts. Remember that chocolate—not just coffee and soda—contains caffeine. Alcohol can rob you of a deep sleep. And eating fatty or fried foods for dinner or before you go to bed can keep you up at night. Also, save larger meals for breakfast and lunch and try to eat a lighter dinner.
Nutrition Tips to Improve Your Sleep: What to Eat and Avoid
  1. Taste, National Sleep Foundation, Accessed October 20, 2014 (
  2. Food and sleep, National Sleep Foundation, Accessed October 20, 2014 (
  3. 12 foods that sabotage sleep, AARP, Accessed October 20, 2014 (
  4. 12 foods that help you sleep. AARP, Accessed October 20, 2014 (
  5. Sleep hygiene tips, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed October 20, 2014 (
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Last Review Date: 2020 Dec 18
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