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Foods that can help with sleep

Few things affect our health more than sleep – or really lack of it. Not getting enough sleep can make just about every health problem worse. Sleep restores everything in our bodies. It’s essential for proper functioning of immune, nervous, skeletal, hormonal, and muscular systems, plus it regulates metabolism and greatly affects how we think (1).

A number of factors can affect the quality of sleep we get. From our internal environments such as stress levels, medical conditions and the time of life we are in, to external ones such as our sleeping environment, medications we take and what we eat and drink (2,3).

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some foods that can help induce sleep.

Turkey contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which can help increase the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin (4). Additionally, turkey is also high in protein, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the night.

Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is a popular herbal remedy that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and sleep. It contains compounds that can help reduce inflammation and anxiety, both of which can interfere with sleep (5).

Almonds are a good source of magnesium, which can help promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. Magnesium is also essential for healthy sleep, as it helps regulate the production of melatonin (6).

Kiwi is a great source of vitamin C and serotonin, which can help improve sleep quality. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and can help promote feelings of relaxation and calmness (7).

Tart cherry juice
Tart cherry juice is high in antioxidants and contains natural melatonin (3). Drinking a glass of tart cherry juice before bed can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle and promote restful sleep.

Warm milk
Warm milk has long been used as a natural sleep aid. Milk contains tryptophan, which can help increase the production of melatonin (8). Additionally, the warmth of the milk can help promote feelings of relaxation and calmness.

Bananas are a good source of magnesium and potassium, both of which can help promote relaxation and reduce stress levels (9). They also contain vitamin B6, which is needed to produce melatonin.

In conclusion, incorporating these sleep-inducing foods into your diet can help promote restful sleep and improve overall sleep quality. However, it’s important to note that while diet can play a role in sleep, it’s not the only factor. Other lifestyle changes, such as reducing screen time before bed, establishing a consistent sleep schedule, and practicing relaxation techniques, can also help improve sleep quality. If you’re struggling with sleep, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider to rule out any underlying sleep disorders or medical conditions.


  1. Chaput JP, Dutil C, Featherstone R, et al. Sleep timing, sleep consistency, and health in adults: a systematic review. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab [Internet]. 2020 Oct 1 [cited 2023 Feb 25];45(10):S232–47. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33054339/
  2. Division of Sleep Medicine HMS. External Factors that Influence Sleep | Healthy Sleep [Internet]. Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School. 2007 [cited 2023 Feb 25]. Available from: https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/how/external-factors
  3. Zeng Y, Yang J, Du J, et al. Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being. Curr Signal Transduct Ther [Internet]. 2014 Dec [cited 2016 Feb 24];9(3):148–55. Available from: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=4440346&tool=pmcentrez&rendertype=abstract
  4. Halson SL. Sleep in Elite Athletes and Nutritional Interventions to Enhance Sleep. Sports Med [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2023 Feb 28];44(Suppl 1):13. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC4008810/
  5. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future (review) [Internet]. Vol. 3, Molecular Medicine Reports. NIH Public Access; 2010 [cited 2023 Feb 28]. p. 895–901. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC2995283/
  6. Food and Drug Administration. FoodData Central [Internet]. FoodData Central. 2019 [cited 2023 Feb 28]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/323294/nutrients
  7. St-Onge MP, Mikic A, Pietrolungo CE. Effects of diet on sleep quality [Internet]. Vol. 7, Advances in Nutrition. Oxford University Press; 2016 [cited 2023 Feb 28]. p. 938–49. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC5015038/
  8. Nongonierma AB, Fitzgerald RJ. Milk proteins as a source of tryptophan-containing bioactive peptides [Internet]. Vol. 6, Food and Function. Food Funct; 2015 [cited 2023 Feb 28]. p. 2115–27. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26027501/
  9. National Institutes of Health NIH. Magnesium — Health Professional Fact Sheet [Internet]. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2018 [cited 2023 Feb 28]. p. 1–9. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
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