Diet & Nutrition

3 best foods to help you sleep better

Struggling to nod off in the heat? Jaymie Hooper explains what to put on your plate.

Between the heat and the humidity, forty winks can be hard to come by.

But it’s not just the weather that’s preventing you from nodding off. According to Kate Save, dietitian and CEO of Be Fit Food, what you eat could also be to blame.

“Diets that are high in refined carbohydrates, animal proteins and saturated fats but low in plant-based nutrients are associated with an increased risk of disturbed sleep,” she tells Body+Soul.

And while some foods can indeed sabotage your sleep, Save notes there are others that can actually set you up for a better night’s snooze.

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Best foods to help you sleep

Here are the key ones to try…

1. Almonds

“Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in the natural sleep-wake cycle,” explains Save. “Research has shown melatonin-rich foods may improve sleep efficiency.”

To get your fill, reach for eggs, fish, cherries, mushrooms, oats, legumes, seeds and nuts. Almonds contain both melatonin and magnesium – a mineral that is thought to promote sleep by reducing cortisol levels – which makes them the ideal pre-bedtime snack.

2. Salmon

According to Save, fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, such as salmon, can help improve your levels of serotonin, which is another hormone that plays an important role in regulating your sleep and mood.

3. Milk

“Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin production,” notes Save. “It can be found in milk, which is believed to improve sleep, and evidence suggests that malted milk in particular promotes a less-restless sleep.”

If you’re not up for a nightcap, tryptophan can also be found in eggs, sweet potato, seeds such as chia and hemp, almonds and bananas.

Top tips for a better night’s sleep

1. Do have an early dinner

“Try to avoid eating food too late,” says Save. “Studies show that a large food intake close to bedtime is associated with negative sleeping patterns.”

2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

According to Save, consuming caffeinated or alcoholic drinks late in the day can make it harder for you to fall asleep.

3. Do eat regular meals

“Skipping meals, particularly breakfast, and irregular eating patterns are associated with poor sleep quality,” Save notes.