Home » 12 Best Foods for a Better Sleep and 12 Worst Foods That Keep You Awake at Night

12 Best Foods for a Better Sleep and 12 Worst Foods That Keep You Awake at Night

by Men's Healthy List Staff
midnight snacking in bed

If you’re anything like us, there may be nights when you’re unable to get shut-eye no matter how much you toss and turn in bed. You might be wondering what the heck is going on in your body. You’ve turned off your gadgets thirty minutes earlier and taken a hot shower for that much-needed rest. Yet, your mind is as awake as the moon outside.

Food works in different ways in your body. Your body acts accordingly depending on what you put into it. Feeding yourself sleep-inducing food will help you doze off much easier. But, in some cases, you take in food that just won’t allow you to close your eyes longer. To help you enjoy good and restorative sleep, eat the best foods below before bedtime and take your hands off the worst foods that keep you awake.

12 Best Foods for a Better Sleep

1. Figs

The potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium in figs are good for circulation and muscle contraction, which make you sleep better.

2. Walnuts

Walnuts contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that aids your body with nitrogen balance. It’s crucial for the normal growth of babies. Tryptophan also helps the body in producing serotonin and melatonin, a hormone that regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycles. Walnuts are packed with their own source of melatonin compared to other sleep-inducing foods.

3. Almonds

Almonds are a good source of magnesium, a mineral that not only helps build strong bones but also induces better sleep. Lack of magnesium in the body gives you difficulty in falling and staying asleep.

4. Prunes

Dried plums are rich sources of magnesium, calcium, and B6, which help the body form the sleep-regulating hormone, melatonin. Prunes can serve as a bedtime snack.

watermelon wedges5. Watermelon

Watermelon is another magnesium-rich food. Eating watermelon before bed can help you improve the quality and duration of your sleep.

6. Cheese

While warm milk is a popular bedtime drink that helps you fall asleep easily, cheese does the same thing. The sleep-inducing amino acid, tryptophan, is present in most dairy products.

7. Turkey

If you don’t like dairy products before bedtime, the best alternative is a turkey. This food is also rich in tryptophan, which can be metabolized into serotonin and melatonin enabling you to doze off much quicker.

8. Lettuce

Lettuce packs lots of benefits. One of them is to help you speed up your bedtime because of the lactucarium it contains. Lactucarium is the milky fluid present in lettuce. It’s considered lettuce opium because of its sedative and analgesic properties that suppress your brain activity and make you long for sleep.

9. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes also help you sleep better. They are a rich source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, which are superb micronutrients that work together to produce the sleep-inducing melatonin.

10. Tuna

Certain kinds of fish like tuna, halibut, and salmon contain B6, a vitamin that also helps the body create serotonin and melatonin.

11. Rice

According to a study from the University of Sydney, rice has a high glycemic index, which helps hasten your sleep. The researchers even suggested that eating rice, especially the Jasmine rice variety, helps solve your problems with insomnia.

12. Cereal

Cereal not only serves as a good breakfast to start your day but also works to give you a good night’s rest. It’s filled with two important components that make you sleep better: carbohydrate and calcium.

12 Worst Foods That Mess with Your Sleep

1. Peppermints

Avoid mint-flavored candies, gums, and even toothpaste because they’re stimulants that induce wakefulness.

2. Chicken tenders

Try not to eat fried foods, particularly chicken tenders, before bedtime. These foods provide your stomach with more work since they take a longer time to digest. Additionally, they can also trigger heartburn, which can affect your sleep.

3. Soy sauce

People have different food sensitivities. While others don’t have sleeping problems after taking higher amounts of sodium before bed, others are too sensitive to this substance that higher amounts of it can interfere in their sleep. Salt sensitivities enhance their feelings of thirst and make them drink too much water. Frequent trips to the bathroom at night simply interrupt the quality of their sleep.

4. Processed and smoked meats

These foods are high in sodium content as well. Try to avoid them to reduce bathroom trips at night.

5. Coffee

The reason why you grab that cup of joe in the morning is the same reason why you need to avoid it at night. Coffee is a stimulant that raises your energy levels during the day. When consumed before bedtime, its caffeine content doesn’t allow your nerves to relax giving you a hard time falling asleep.

6. Spicy foods

Spicy foods aren’t sleep-inducing either. They may interfere with your gut or may cause heartburn. Leave them for daytime meals only to avoid having sleepless nights.

7. Citrus juices

Orange and grapefruit juices aren’t ideal drinks before bed. They’re rich in acid content that can interfere with your gut. People with gut problems like acid reflux or heartburn should steer clear from these liquids.

sugary sweet treats8. Sugary foods

While foods loaded with artificial sweeteners aren’t good for your health, they’re not good for your sleep either. They tend to trigger late-night cravings and a higher intake of calories, which not only disrupt sleep but also cause unwanted weight gain.

9. Fatty foods

Like a chicken tender, other foods high in fat content are likely to cause wakefulness at night. A study revealed that people who consumed less fiber and more saturated fats have problems staying asleep.

10. Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol before bed is a no-no according to experts. Excessive alcohol in the body can only make you feel drowsy. This effect only lasts for a few hours causing you to have restless sleep and midnight awakenings.

11. Raw onions

Aside from getting that unique smell, eating onion can also interfere with your sleep. It has acidic properties that trigger reflux, which not only causes pain but also affects your sleep quality.

12. Green tea

Green tea provides ample benefits for the body. There’s no question about that. The bottom line is, green tea isn’t an ideal drink before bedtime. Green tea contains stimulants such as caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline, which make your nerves jittery. You need calm and relaxed nerves to help you fall asleep easily. Green tea just can’t help you with that.


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