How to Get Better Sleep: 10 Foods That Can Improve It

Here are the top ten foods and drinks to consume before bed that can help improve the quality of your sleep, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and provide other benefits.

12 min read

Health & Wellness

How to Get Better Sleep: 10 Foods That Can Improve It

Getting good sleep is essential for overall health. It might reduce your risk of developing certain chronic diseases, keep your brain healthy, and boost your immune system (1, 2, 3). Plus, not getting enough can decrease your workout performance.

Experts recommend healthy adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night (4, 5). But what if you’re struggling to get sleep? Many strategies—from taking a magnesium supplement to getting more light exposure throughout the day—can help enhance your quality of sleep.

However, the best strategy might already be in your kitchen. ten of the best foods and drinks you can have right before bed to catch more z’s, below.


10 Foods That Improve Sleep

1. Almonds

Almonds (along with many other nuts) are a natural source of melatonin—a hormone produced naturally in your body that regulates your internal clock, and signals your body to prepare for sleep (6).

They’re also packed with magnesium, an essential vitamin that promotes relaxation and reduces inflammation. Studies have found that getting enough magnesium may improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia (7, 8, 9). One ounce (two tablespoons) of almonds provide a whopping 19% of your daily magnesium needs.


2. Turkey

A big meal isn’t the only reason you have a food coma after Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey is loaded with the amino acid, tryptophan, which increases the production of melatonin (10, 11).

An extra hit of protein might help you get better sleep, too. One study found that consuming moderate amounts of protein before bed is associated with better sleep quality, including less waking up throughout the night (12). Plus, protein won’t spike your blood glucose levels like a banana, and the additional protein may help with muscle recovery while you sleep.


3. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea’s sleep benefits extend well beyond being soothing to sip. Specifically, chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia (13, 14).

One small study found that adults who took 270 mg of chamomile extract twice a day for 28 days fell asleep 15 minutes faster and woke up less throughout the night compared to those who didn’t (15). Drink up.


4. Kiwi

Experts can’t agree exactly why kiwis improve sleep quality. Some think it’s because kiwis are rich in serotonin (12, 16, 17) —a chemical that helps regulate your mood and sleep cycle—and others that the anti-inflammatory antioxidants like vitamin C and carotenoids (the pigment found in yellow, orange, and red fruits) are responsible for their sleep-promoting effects (16, 18).

Either way, one study confirmed kiwi’s have a powerful impact on sleep. It found adults that consumed two kiwis one hour before bed fell asleep 42% more quickly than those who didn’t eat anything. Plus, it boosted their total sleep time by 13% (16).


5. Tart Cherry Juice

There’s a reason Team USA uses tart cherry juice as a part of their recovery protocol (19)—its high antioxidant content is known to combat the oxidative stress caused by intense training, repairing muscle faster and reducing muscle soreness.

Tart cherries' impact on muscle recovery may also be due in part to their sleep-promoting benefits. Tart cherry juice is loaded with melatonin (20). One small study found that adults who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks slept 84 minutes longer and reported better sleep quality than those who didn’t drink any juice (21).


6. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel, are packed with vitamin D and heart healthy omega-3 fats. Both of which increase the production of serotonin to promote better quality sleep and reduce depression—which has been linked to lower sleep quality (22, 23).

One study found that men who ate 10.5 ounces of Atlantic Salmon three times per week for six months fell asleep about 10 minutes faster than men who ate beef, chicken, or pork instead (24).


7. Walnuts

Like almonds, walnuts are one of the best sources of melatonin (25, 26). They’re also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha linoleic acid—which is converted to DHA in the body. DHA is linked to an increase in serotonin production (27). Just a small handful is enough to make a difference.


8. Passionflower Tea

If you prefer a cozy drink over food before bed, consider passionflower tea. Passionflower tea reduces anxiety through a number of mechanisms.

First, it’s packed with apigenin, which can help to create a calming effect by binding to certain receptors in the brain (28). It also increases the production of the brain chemical gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) (28). GABA works to inhibit other brain chemicals that induce stress, like glutamate.


9. Avocado

Looking for another plant-based food loaded with healthy omega-3 fats and magnesium? Look no further than creamy avocados. Spread a half of an avocado on whole grain bread for a dose of satiating fat and fiber, or cut one in half, sprinkle it with everything but the bagel seasoning, and eat it straight out of the skin with a spoon.


10. Milk

Did anyone else have a dad who slurped down a glass of milk before bed? Turns out they were on to something. Dairy products, like a glass of milk, cottage cheese, and greek yogurt are known sources of tryptophan. Milk, specifically, has been shown to improve sleep in older adults—especially when paired with light exercise (30, 31, 32).


Other Foods That May Promote Sleep

It’s been suggested that high GI foods consumed one hour before bed can improve sleep (10). However, chronically elevated blood glucose levels have been linked with most chronic diseases (33)—from heart disease to cancer—so depending on the time of day you go to sleep, you might want to opt for a snack higher in fiber, healthy fat, or protein from the list above to keep blood glucose levels humming at a steady rate.

  • White Rice: One study found intake of white rice was associated with better sleep in comparison to other high GI carbs like noodles and bread (29).
  • Bananas: Bananas aren’t only high GI, they’re also packed with tryptophan and magnesium—two nutrients known to assist with better sleep.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal has also been reported to induce drowsiness when eaten before bed, probably because oats are a known source of melatonin (33). Plus, they may be a better option than white rice as it has a bit more fiber.


How Diet Affects Sleep

A snack or simple sip of tea isn’t the only thing that can impact your quality of sleep. Your entire diet plays a role in sleep quality. Before giving the above snacks a try, get these big picture elements in order.



Coffee has many benefits. But drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages (like energy drinks) in the afternoon and evening when your natural cortisol levels start to dip can cause an unnatural spike in cortisol, and can disrupt your sleep. One study concluded caffeine can indeed disrupt your sleep (34).



Drinking alcohol might make you sleepy at first, but moderate drinking can disrupt your sleep throughout the night and mess with your sleep cycle (35). Aim to drink in moderation, and stop drinking a few hours before bed to ensure you get a good night's sleep.


Food Timing

Try not to eat too late. By eating at least an hour before bed you give your food time to digest, absorbing the nutrients so your body can use them to restore your body as you sleep. Plus, eating too close to bed may initiate or exacerbate acid reflux.


1. Fan. M. et al (2020). Sleep patterns, genetic susceptibility, and incident cardiovascular disease: a prospective study of 385 292 UK biobank participants. Accessed 23 March, 2023.
2. Eugene, et al (2015). The Neuroprotective Aspects of Sleep. Accessed 23 March, 2023.
3. Ibarra-Coronado, E. et al (2015). The Bidirectional Relationship Between Sleep and Immunity Against Infections. Accessed 23 March, 2023.
4. Hirshkowitz, M. et al (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Time Duration Recommendations: Methodology and Results Summary. Accessed 23 March, 2023.
5. Chattu, V. et al (2018). Insufficient Sleep Syndrome: Is It Time to Classify It as a Major Communicable Disease? Accessed 23 March, 2023.
6. Meng, X. et al (2017). Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin. Accessed 23 March, 2023.
7. Zeng, Y. et al (2014). Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being. Accessed 25 March, 2023.
8. National Institutes of Health (2022). Magnesium. Accessed 25 March, 2023.
9. Abassi, B. et al (2012). The Effect of Magnesium Supplementation on Primary Insomnia in Elderly: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Accessed 25 March, 2023.
10. Halsob, S. et al (2014). Sleep in ELite Athletes and Nutritional Interventions to Enhance Sleep. Accessed 25 March, 2023.
11. Zhao, D. et al (2019). Melatonin Synthesis and Function: Evolutionary History in Animals and Plants. Accessed 26 March, 2023.
12. St-Onge, M. et al (20160. Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Accessed 26 March, 2023.
13. Srivastava, J. et al (2011). Chamomile: A Herbal Medicine of the Past With a Bright Future. Accessed 26 March, 2023.
14. Salehi, B. et al (2019). The Therapeutic Potential of Apigenin. Accessed 26 March, 2023.
15. Zick, S. et al (2011). Preliminary Examination of the Efficacy and Safety of Standardized Chamomile Extract for Chronic Primary Insomnia: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. Accessed 26 March, 2023.
16. Lin, H. et al (2011). Effect of Kiwifruit Consumption on Sleep Quality in Adults With Sleep Problems. Accessed 26 March, 2023.
17. Peuhkuri, K. et al (2012). Diet Promotes Sleep Duration and Quality. Accessed 26 March, 2023.
18. Kanagasabai, T. et al (2015). Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Antioxidants Contribute to Selected Sleep Quality and Cardiometabolic Health Relationships: A Cross-Sectional Study. Accessed 27 March, 2023.
19. Shutt, B, (2019). This is Why You Should Use Tart Cherry Juice for Recovery. Accessed 27 March, 2023.
20. Turcheschen, M. et al (2015). Updates on Nutraceutical Sleep Therapeutics and Investigational Research. Accessed 27 March, 2023.
21. Losso, J. et al (2018). Pilot Study of Tart Cherry Juice for the treatment of Insomnia and Investigation of Mechanisms. Accessed 27 March, 2023.
22. Patrick, R. et al (2015). Vitamin D and the Omega-3 Fatty Acids Control Serotonin Synthesis and Action, Part 2: Relevance for ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Impulsive Behavior. Accessed 27 March, 2023.
23. Grosso, G. et al (2014). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression: Scientific Evidence and Biological Mechanisms. Accessed 27 March, 2023.
24. Hansen, A. et al (2014). Fish Consumption, Sleep, Daily Functioning, and Heart Rate Variability. Accessed 28 March, 2023.
25. Peuhkuri, K. et al (2012). Dietary Factors and Fluctuating Levels of Melatonin. Accessed 28 March, 2023.
26. Emilio, R. et al (2018). Beneficial Effects of Walnut Consumption on Human Health, Accessed 28 March, 2023.
27. Su, K. et al (2015). Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Prevention of Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Accessed 28 March, 2023.
28. Elsas, S. et al (2011). Passiflora Incarnata L. (Passionflower) Extracts Elicit GABA Currents in Hippocampal Neurons in Vitro, and Show Anxiogenic and Anticonvulsant Effects in Vivo, Varying With Extraction Method. Accessed 29 March, 2023.
29. Culberson, J. (2017). Clinical Aspects of Glucose Metabolism and Chronic Disease. Accessed 29 March, 2023.
30. Nongonierma, A. et al (2015). Milk Proteins as a Source of Tryptophan-Containing Bioactive Peptides. Accessed 29 March, 2023.
31. Kitando, N. et al (2014). Association Between Difficulty Initiating Sleep in Older Adults and the Combination of Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Consumption of Milk and Milk Products: A Cross-Sectional Study. Accessed 29 March, 2023.
32. Bertazzo, A. et al (2016). Evolution of Tryptophan and Its Foremost Metabolites’ Concentrations in Milk and Fermented Dairy Products. Accessed 29 March, 2023.
33. Meng, X. et al (2017). Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin. Accessed 29 March, 2023.
34. O’ Callaghan, F. et al (2018). Effects of Caffeine on Sleep Quality and Daytime Functioning. Accessed 29 March, 2023.
35. Park, S. et al (2015). The Effects of Alcohol on Quality of Sleep. Accessed 29 March, 2023.


How to Get Better Sleep: 10 Foods That Can Improve It Infographic

How to Get Better Sleep: 10 Foods That Can Improve It Infographic


Recommended Products

Leave a comment

* indicating required fields

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.