Can the Right Food Help You Sleep?



Yes, of course. So let’s focus on precisely which foods can help you sleep. We’re also going to review some other factors involved in improved sleep quality. And just so we cover all the bases, we’ll confirm and dispel some commonly held misconceptions about sleep. 


Foods Naturally Rich In Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone, and it’s been proven essential to our sleep. Many people follow a Mediterranean diet that includes many fruits and vegetables just for this reason. Melatonin is recognized as a hormone that helps regulate our sleep. Let’s look at some of the foods rich in this important hormone.




Unroasted nuts: Who knew they could be the perfect night snack? Having a moderate portion of nuts after dinner will increase the level of melatonin in your body, and this can help you sleep. Be sure to give yourself enough time between dinner and bedtime so that your body will have a chance to digest the nuts.

Walnuts, in particular, have a higher level of melatonin than many other commercially available nuts. If possible, choose unroasted nuts. Studies show that the melatonin level is decreased during the roasting process.



Tart cherry juice:  Tart cherries, also known as Montmorency Cherries, are grown right here in the USA. Although not as sweet as the more common varieties, tart cherries are recognized as having the highest level of anti-inflammatory content of any food.

Including tart cherries or tart cherry juice as part of your daily diet can help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer. There’s also some evidence it can ease arthritic pain in your joints.



Eggs:  We’re now learning the commonly held beliefs about eggs and cholesterol levels may have been overblown. Eggs are considered a superfood, and they contain a high level of amino acids and melatonin that helps you sleep. Even better – there are hundreds of ways to prepare eggs, and most of them are quick and easy. Many enjoy breakfast for dinner, especially during a busy work week. 



Fatty Fish:  A recent study shows eating fish may promote quality sleep. Along with melatonin, the Omega 3 fatty acids in fish are being found to improve sleep. Fish varieties like anchovies, mackerel, herring, and oysters are particularly rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. (Finally, anchovy lovers have a justification for ordering them on a pizza!) 



Cow’s milk:  Warm milk before bed has long been known to help you sleep. Now we have the studies to help back this up.  It turns out a glass of warm milk before bed has some scientific and psychological benefits when it comes to improving the quality of your sleep.

In some regions of the country, “raw” unpasteurized milk has been approved for consumption, and advocates there extoll many additional benefits. Cottage cheese may help with this. Unfortunately, the jury is still out as to whether or not ice cream counts.




Why Less Is More

As with so many other things we’re learning, smaller portions are better for our general health and definitely better for our sleep quality. Yes, having a bigger than normal meal can make you sleepy, but your body has to work extra hard to digest all that food and this makes it harder to stay asleep and wake up refreshed.

The likelihood of experiencing acid reflux increases the more you eat, and the later you eat. Acid reflux can make it harder to fall asleep and it can also detrimental to your heart health.

In addition, being able to sleep more will help you eat less. Sleep patterns affect the amount of the hormone ghrelin in your system. Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone .”The more you sleep, the less ghrelin you will have. 


Turkey And Tryptophan

Yes, indeed. Eating turkey can help you sleep. Although there is a limit. Stuffing yourself with turkey on Thanksgiving dinner will definitely help you fall asleep, but you might not enjoy a restful night because you ate too much.

There are also a number of foods, besides turkey that are high in tryptophan:

  • Chicken
  • Cheese
  • Seeds, especially pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Spinach
  • Edamame


Alcohol And Sleep

A normal-sized glass or two of wine or beer a day has been recognized by many experts as healthy. The trouble is once you have one or two, it makes it harder to want to stop there. Over drinking can contribute to poor sleep and eventually cause a sleep disorder.

The effects of alcohol on sleep are a bit counterintuitive when we ponder, if one drink helps relax me, more will help me sleep. Not true. Although it may be easier to fall asleep when we drink, staying asleep or being able to benefit from a night of quality sleep is difficult to maintain when we drink too much. 




Take a Sleep Hygiene Quiz

This quiz is in no way scientific. Please answer the questions as a way to help remind yourself that restorative sleep is essential to both our physical and mental health. Lack of sleep can cause chronic issues with our sleep cycles, state of health, the quality of our relationships, our performance at work, and our emotional health.

The 1980s and 1990s were influenced by the notion, “Sleep is for wimps.” And like so many things of ridiculous things from back then, we can thank our lucky stars that we’ve moved on. 


  1. Do you lie awake for more than 30 minutes before you can fall asleep?
  2. Have you established a “wind-down” routine to help you relax before bedtime?
  3. Are you looking at a laptop screen, phone screen, or tv screen before you sleep?
  4. Are you checking messages on your smart device if you wake up at night?
  5. Do you often switch from one sleep position to another during the night?
  6. Is your bedroom dark enough, especially in the early morning?
  7. Do you find your heart rate and or your body temperature too high during the night?
  8. Is your mattress supportive enough?
  9. Do you wake up if your sleeping partner gets out of bed?
  10. Do you wake up with a headache?
  11. Are you getting up to urinate more than three times during the night?
  12. During the day, do you find yourself wanting to take a nap?
  13. Do you snore?
  14. If you snore, do you find yourself gasping for air?
  15. When you awaken, are there parts of your body that feel sore?




How a Sleep Expert Can Help

Your sleep is essential to your immune system and your general health. Once you’ve gone through the Sleep Quiz, you may decide to go over some of what you’re experiencing with a qualified health professional.

As a first step, you may want to consult a sleep expert at The Bedding Mart. The proper bedding is just one of the ways to help improve your sleep. The experts at The Bedding Mart can help you find the perfect match for your sleep habits as well as help suggest other ways to promote more healthy and enjoyable sleep.

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