Try these 6 foods and drinks for a better night’s sleep

Try these 6 foods and drinks for a better night’s sleep

Do you lie awake staring at the ceiling at night, struggling to get to bed? Or wake up numerous times in the middle of the night only to wake up feeling exhausted?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of adults in the U.S. report they get less than the recommended amount of sleep. And not getting enough sleep can lead to a variety of health problems and conditions.

So what can you do?

Your diet may be the answer. While you’ve likely heard to avoid certain foods and drinks in the afternoon and evening hours because they can be sleep deterrents, did you know that certain foods can actually help you get some shut-eye?

“Food and drink choice in the evening hours can have a big impact on the quality of nighttime sleep,” says Dr. Yelena Tumashova, a sleep specialist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “I always recommend to my patients who are having sleep difficulties to avoid a couple things. First, heavy carbs and spicy foods prior to bedtime can be a big sleep deterrent. I advise my patients to eat dinner earlier in the evening so they can properly digest the food before bed. I also recommend avoiding alcohol three to four hours prior to bedtime.”

Looking for some good food or drink options to help you sleep?

Dr. Tumashova says these six food and drinks can help you sleep better at night:

  • Ever wonder why you’re so sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner? One reason is because turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid. It’s a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin and the sleep hormone melatonin which help produce a quality sleep. Egg whites, pumpkin seeds and squash seeds are also high in tryptophan, so turkey is likely not the only reason you’re tired after the big meal.
  • Warm milk. Milk also contains tryptophan in addition to vitamin D. Both can help with quality sleep, but tryptophan is present in such small amounts, it’s likely not the reason warm milk makes the average person sleepy. The real reason? Psychology. “Warm milk may remind people of their childhood. It’s the comfort factor, which can play a big role in sleep habits,” says Dr. Tumashova.
  • Chamomile tea. Chamomile tea has been found to be particularly beneficial in supporting a good night’s sleep because it contains certain compounds that can ease stress and anxiety. “One of the most common factors that contributes to a poor night’s rest is an active anxious mind,” says Dr. Tumashova.
  • Green leafy vegetables like collard greens and kale. “These foods are high in calcium, and studies have shown that one factor in poor sleep is calcium deficiency,” says Dr. Tumashova. “In addition, calcium helps the brain use tryptophan to create melatonin.”
  • Walnuts pack a double punch. They contain both tryptophan and their own source of melatonin.
  • Salmon is not only a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but it’s rich in the vitamin B6. “The body actually uses this vitamin to make melatonin.” Other good fishes include cod, tuna and halibut.

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About the Author

Jackie Hughes
Jackie Hughes

Jacquelien Hughes is the manager, media relations at Advocate Aurora Health. Previously, she was the co-managing editor of Advocate health enews. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.