Discover the Top 5 Bedtime Foods You Need to Eat and Avoid for Better Sleep 

A full, restful night’s sleep has an almost magical effect on our health and well-being, giving us the strength, clarity, and energy we need to deal with the challenges we face during our busy daily lives. 

We all know that sleep is essential to our overall well-being. It affects our physical health, mental clarity, and emotional balance. However, many individuals struggle with getting regular quality sleep. Numerous factors can contribute to sleep issues; one of these is diet.

The concept of “food as medicine” has gained considerable momentum in recent decades.  Healthcare experts have come to realize that the foods we consume before bedtime can have a big impact on our sleep patterns. By making informed choices about what we eat before bed, we can create a conducive environment for getting a peaceful night’s rest and waking up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

In this post, San Antonio functional nutritionist Sarah Treat discusses how the food you eat before bed can affect the quality of your sleep. She’s also going to share the top five bedtime foods you should eat for better sleep, along with five foods you should avoid.

Top 5 Foods to Eat for Better Sleep

 1. Cherries: A natural source of melatonin for Better Sleep

Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which regulates sleep-wake cycles. Consuming cherries, especially tart cherry juice, increases melatonin levels and improves sleep duration and efficiency. Additionally, cherries have health benefits such as reducing inflammation, supporting digestion, and boosting the immune system. Incorporating cherries into our daily routine can improve sleep and overall well-being.

2.     Kiwi: A Natural Source of Serotonin and Antioxidants for Enhanced Sleep Quality

Incorporating kiwi into your diet can improve sleep quality due to its high serotonin content and antioxidants that combat oxidative stress. Enjoy kiwi as a snack or in a fruit salad to experience its soothing effects and protective benefits.

3.     Almonds: Promoting Restful Sleep

Almonds can enhance sleep quality due to their high magnesium and tryptophan content. These nutrients help relax muscles, promote calmness, and regulate sleep-wake cycles.

Almonds also offer other health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol levels and providing fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Enjoying a handful of almonds as a snack or adding them to tea or oatmeal can help improve sleep. Consume almonds in moderation due to their calorie density.

4.     Oatmeal: Complex Carbohydrates Enhancing Serotonin Production for Improved Sleep

Oatmeal is another great option for improving sleep quality. Its complex carbohydrates release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, providing sustained energy and stimulating serotonin production.

Serotonin helps regulate mood and sleep, promoting relaxation and tranquility. Incorporating oatmeal into your diet can lead to more restorative sleep and overall well-being.

5.     Bananas – Contain Tryptophan and Magnesium for Improved Sleep

Bananas have natural compounds that can help improve sleep. They contain tryptophan, which helps produce hormones that regulate sleep-wake cycles. Bananas also have magnesium, which relaxes muscles, and potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. Including bananas in our diet can lead to more restful sleep.

We can incorporate bananas into our sleep routine by making banana smoothies or having them as an evening snack.

5 Foods to Avoid for Better Sleep

Here are five foods to avoid if you’re looking for better sleep:

1.     Processed and Sugary Foods Disrupt Sleep Patterns

Eating processed and sugary foods can disrupt sleep by causing spikes in sugar levels and inflammation. This can disturb your circadian rhythm and deplete serotonin levels, making it difficult to fall asleep or get a restful night’s sleep.

To improve sleep, prioritize whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats instead of sugary snacks.

2.     Caffeine-Rich Beverages Like Coffee and Energy Drinks Hinder Sleep

Coffee and other caffeine-rich beverages can disrupt sleep patterns and hinder sleep quality. The stimulating effects of caffeine delay sleep onset, cause fragmented sleep, and reduce total sleep time. Understanding these effects is vital for individuals to make informed decisions about their sleep habits and overall well-being.  I recommend to stop drinking caffeine at noon.  Also, limit caffeine to 100-200 mg a day if you are having trouble sleeping.  

3.     High-fat and Heavy Meals lead to Indigestion and Restlessness

Eating high-fat and heavy meals before bedtime can cause indigestion and disrupt sleep. We recommend that you avoid these types of foods within two hours before bed. Instead, choose lighter options that promote relaxation, such as lean proteins, sweet potatoes, fruits, and vegetables.

4.     Alcohol consumption negatively affects the quality of sleep

Alcohol consumption before bedtime negatively impacts sleep quality. Alcohol also acts as a diuretic, causing frequent trips to the bathroom and further disrupting sleep patterns. 

To improve the quality of sleep, it is essential to avoid alcohol before bed and instead focus on consuming foods rich in tryptophan, such as turkey, bananas, or warm milk. Tryptophan aids in producing hormones crucial for regulating the sleep-wake cycle, leading to better-quality sleep and feeling refreshed in the morning.

5.     Foods High in Protein can Disrupt Sleep due to the Digestion Process

Protein-rich foods can disrupt sleep due to their extended digestion process. Consume a balanced meal containing carbohydrates and lean proteins earlier in the evening to allow ample time for digestion.

Try lighter protein options like lean chicken, turkey with vegetables, or Greek yogurt with fruits. Balanincing protein intake with complex carbohydrates before bed based on individual tolerance levels can help improve sleep quality without compromising nutrition goals.

Incorporating These Foods into Your Diet for Optimal Sleep

And there you have it, folks! Carefully selecting your bedtime foods can optimize your chances of getting better sleep. By choosing sleep-inducing foods such as warm milk, bananas, and complex carbohydrates while avoiding stimulants like caffeine and spicy, fatty foods, we can create an environment conducive to restful sleep.If you live in the San Antonio area and want to learn more about the relationship between food and sleep, get in touch with Sarah Treat. She can provide the knowledge and resources you need to get the healthiest sleep possible, naturally!