Here’s what foods to eat before bedtime.

Sleep isn’t just a nightly necessity—it’s a pivotal part of our overall health and well-being. Yet, for many, a good night’s sleep feels more like a luxury than a regular occurrence. This is where diet steps into the spotlight. Certain foods have the power to influence our sleep quality positively.

With expert inspiration from a Cleveland Clinic doctor, we’re exploring the transformative effects of seven specific foods that can help you drift away into dreamland more smoothly. This journey involves listing these foods and understanding how they interact with our bodies to promote restorative sleep. If you’re curious about integrating these foods into your evening routine, you’re in the right place to learn how to revolutionize your nights and life.

1 – Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are more than just an energy source. Indeed, they play a significant role in enhancing the quality of your sleep. When you include whole-grain bread, cereals, pasta, crackers, and brown rice in your evening meals, you’re doing more than filling your stomach. These complex carbs help increase the availability of tryptophan in your bloodstream. Tryptophan is an amino acid the human body converts into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that stabilizes your mood and induces sleepiness and relaxation.

However, not all carbohydrates have this beneficial effect. It’s important to avoid simple carbohydrates, such as those in sugary snacks and white bread, as they can reduce serotonin levels and potentially disrupt sleep. Instead, focusing on whole grains can help maintain a steady level of serotonin in your body, promoting better sleep. Including these complex carbohydrates in your dinner can set the stage for a restful night, making falling and staying asleep easier. By integrating these foods into your diet, you’re eating healthily and cultivating a conducive environment for quality sleep.


Complex Carbohydrates to Try:

  • Whole-grain bread: Provides a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates.
  • Brown rice: It provides a slow release of energy, keeping blood sugar levels stable throughout the night.
  • Whole-grain pasta: A comforting option that also contributes to increased serotonin levels.
  • Quinoa: A gluten-free alternative that is high in protein and fiber.
  • Oatmeal: A warm, soothing choice that can help increase melatonin production.

2 – Lean Proteins

Lean proteins are a cornerstone for better sleep, primarily because of their tryptophan content. Tryptophan is one amino acid building block for serotonin, a key hormone that helps regulate sleep. Foods rich in lean proteins include chicken, turkey, low-fat cheese, and fish. These help produce serotonin and are easier to digest than their high-fat counterparts.

However, not all proteins are equal for good sleep. It’s advisable to avoid heavy, high-fat proteins like fried fish or chicken wings close to bedtime, as they take longer to digest and can keep you awake. Instead, incorporating lean proteins like turkey or fish into your dinner can enhance serotonin levels, making it easier to drift into a sound sleep and stay asleep. Including these proteins as a regular part of your evening meal can help ensure restful sleep, enhancing your physical and mental well-being.

Lean Proteins to Eat for Better Sleep:

  • Chicken breast: A low-fat protein source that’s easy to digest.
  • Turkey: Contains high levels of tryptophan, promoting sleep.
  • Low-fat cheese: Provides tryptophan and calcium, which can help regulate muscle movements during sleep.
  • Fish: Especially varieties like salmon and cod are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Legumes: Lentils and chickpeas offer fiber and protein, aiding nighttime digestion.

3 – Heart-healthy Fats

Incorporating heart-healthy fats into your evening diet is another effective strategy for improving sleep quality. Unsaturated fats, particularly those found in nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios), seeds, and peanut butter, help elevate serotonin levels. This increase in serotonin improves mood and facilitates deeper, more restful sleep.

It’s important to choose the right kinds of fats. Avoid saturated and trans fats. These fats are common in high-fat snack foods like french fries and potato chips, as they can decrease serotonin levels, negatively impacting sleep. By opting for heart-healthy fats, you support cardiovascular health and enhance your body’s ability to wind down and prepare for sleep. Integrating these fats into your dinner routine can significantly improve your sleep quality, helping you to wake up feeling more rested and rejuvenated.

Heart-Healthy Fats:

  • Walnuts: Not only provide healthy fats but also contain a small amount of melatonin.
  • Almonds: Rich in magnesium, which can help improve sleep quality.
  • Avocado: High in monounsaturated fats and also provides magnesium.
  • Flaxseeds: These are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that benefit heart health.
  • Chia seeds: Offer both omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.

4 – Magnesium Rich Foods

Magnesium is an important nutrient that plays a key role in improving rest quality. Like tryptophan, magnesium aids in producing and regulating serotonin, a neurotransmitter essential for sleep and relaxation. Magnesium-rich foods include leafy greens like spinach, nuts, seeds, avocados, and black beans.

Incorporating these magnesium-rich foods into your evening meals can help your body prepare for rest by promoting muscle relaxation and reducing stress levels, often reducing a good night’s sleep. Including these foods in your diet supports overall health and enhances your sleep cycle, making it easier to fall and stay asleep throughout the night.

Magnesium-Rich Foods to Eat for Better Sleep:

  • Spinach: One of the best plant-based sources of magnesium.
  • Black beans: Also high in fiber, which can help with overnight blood sugar stabilization.
  • Pumpkin seeds: A snackable option with a high magnesium content.
  • Almonds: Double as a heart-healthy fat and a magnesium-rich food.
  • Yogurt: Contains magnesium and is also a good source of calcium.


5 – Beverages for Better Sleep

Certain beverages can significantly impact your ability to fall and stay asleep. Warm milk and herbal teas, like chamomile or peppermint, are traditional choices for promoting relaxation and enhancing sleep quality. The warm sensation of these drinks can be soothing, while the natural properties of herbal ingredients aid in reducing stress and inducing sleepiness.

It’s also crucial to avoid beverages that can disrupt your slumber, particularly those containing caffeine. Drinks like coffee, black tea, and certain sodas are best consumed well before bedtime, ideally ending caffeine intake by the afternoon. That ensures that caffeine doesn’t interfere with your sleep cycle, allowing you to achieve a deeper and more restful night’s sleep.

Beverages That Promote Sleep:

  • Herbal tea: Delicious warm or iced tea options like chamomile and peppermint are known for their calming effects.
  • Warm milk: Contains tryptophan and calcium, which help promote sleep.
  • Tart cherry juice: These fruits are a natural source of melatonin, which regulates sleep cycles.
  • Valerian tea: Known for its soothing qualities and ability to improve sleep quality.
  • Decaffeinated green tea: Contains theanine, which can help relax the mind and improve sleep.

6 – Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs, particularly sage and basil, enhance the flavor of meals and can contribute to better sleep. These herbs contain natural compounds that help reduce tension and promote relaxation, both conducive to a good night’s sleep. Incorporating these herbs into your evening meals, such as homemade pasta sauces, can be a delightful and healthy way to end your day. The calming effects of these herbs help prepare your body and mind for rest, making it easier to fall asleep and enjoy a restful night.

Fresh Herbs to Eat for Better Sleep:

  • Sage: Known for its calming properties and ability to ease insomnia.
  • Basil: Helps reduce stress and anxiety, which can improve sleep quality.
  • Lavender: Often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and better sleep.
  • Lemon balm: A mint family member, lemon balm can help reduce anxiety and promote sleep.
  • Cilantro: Helps with digestion and can have a calming effect on the nervous system.

7 – Snacking for Better Sleep

When considering snacks that aid in sleep, choosing those that stabilize blood sugar and induce sleep without causing digestive distress is crucial. Some effective sleep-inducing snacks include a banana with low-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, a few whole-grain pita chips, peanut butter on whole-grain crackers, or an apple with mozzarella string cheese. These snacks combine complex carbohydrates with proteins and heart-healthy fats, creating a balance that can help trigger the sleep hormones and ensure a smoother transition to sleep.

Sleep-Inducing Snacks:

  • Banana with low-fat yogurt: Combines the sleep-promoting effects of potassium and probiotics.
  • Apple with mozzarella string cheese: Provides a nice mix of fiber and protein.
  • Whole-grain crackers with peanut butter: Offers a satisfying snack with fiber and protein.
  • Almond butter on whole-grain toast: A tasty source of heart-healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
  • A half-cup of cottage cheese and pineapple: Contains tryptophan cheese and bromelain from the pineapple, which can help with digestion.


Final Thoughts on the Best Foods for Good Sleep, According to Cleveland Clinic

Adding specific foods to your diet can significantly enhance your sleep quality. Each food group plays a vital role, from complex carbohydrates that boost serotonin to lean proteins rich in tryptophan and heart-healthy fats that optimize your body’s sleep readiness. Adding magnesium-rich foods and restful beverages like herbal teas supports a restful night. Fresh herbs and wisely chosen snacks also contribute to this holistic approach to better sleep.

By understanding and utilizing the insights from the Cleveland Clinic, you can transform your nightly routine, improve your rest quality, and enjoy better health.