What to Eat When You Can’t Sleep


We’ve all been there—the restless nights, tossing and turning, flipping your pillow over and over again, counting sheep, and praying for your brain to turn off and your body to relax. Can certain foods help your mind and body to relax and drift off into a peaceful night’s sleep? The answer is a resounding, “yes!" Here are the foods and drinks you can consume for a better night’s sleep.


  • Melatonin—Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland and regulates your sleep cycle. Foods like tart cherry juice, grains like rice and rolled oats, and many nuts and seeds such as walnuts, flaxseeds, and peanuts. Eating these foods can help to regulate your sleep schedule and help you sleep longer and more soundly.
  • Tryptophan—Do you ever feel extra sleepy after your Thanksgiving dinner? Sure, you probably ate a healthy amount and feel sluggish, but there’s more to it than that—turkey contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that gets turned into serotonin—the happy hormone—and is then converted to melatonin—the sleepy hormone. Other foods that contain tryptophan includes fruits like apples and bananas, vegetables like spinach and onions, and grains such as wheat and barley.
  • Magnesium—Magnesium helps deactivate adrenaline, the hormone that makes your heart race and your blood pump when you’re excited or nervous, and is commonly called the sleep mineral. Foods that contain magnesium are nuts and seeds, soybeans, bananas, avocados, and low-fat yogurt, just to name a few.
  • Calcium—Calcium helps your brain create melatonin from tryptophan. You can always find calcium in dairy products and dark leafy greens.
  • Vitamin B6—Like calcium, vitamin B6 helps create melatonin which can lead to insomnia and mood disorders. Some foods that contain this vitamin are sunflower seeds, avocados, bananas, and dried prunes.


Incorporating any of these foods into your daily diet at any time of day can help you reach a more satisfying and restful sleep. Goodbye sheep and hello sleep!


Information sourced from the Alaska Sleep Clinic.