What Foods are Good for Sleep?

Foods affect sleep
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Eating certain foods may improve sleep.

Sleeping well is a glorious feeling.

It impacts energy levels and overall health.

Although the amount of sleep an adult needs may vary from one stage of life to another, adults should have at least seven hours of solid sleep through the night.

According to recent Seasons article titled “Foods that can help older adults sleep better,” poor sleep can have various health implications.

Foods can affect sleep.
Quality of sleep may be connected to the foods a person eats.

Inadequate sleep can lead to impaired immune system functioning and higher rates of anxiety, depression, and illness.

This is can be especially pronounced in seniors.

Many caregivers may notice the seniors in their lives have trouble sleeping through the night without interruption.

We are what we eat (quite literally), right?

Perhaps certain foods could provide sleep benefits.

What are these?

Oatmeal and milk.

Oats are a complex carbohydrate.

Complex carbohydrates are helpful in stabilizing blood sugar.

By soaking the oats in milk or cooking them with milk, you will get a boost of calcium, magnesium, and vitamins, B6, B12, C, and D.

Yogurt and walnuts.

Tryptophan is an animo acid associated with feeling drowsy because the body converts it to melatonin and serotonin.

These hormones are beneficial to restful and long sleep.

Tryptophan is found in both regular and Greek yogurt.

By addition walnuts to your dairy treat, you can also include magnesium with its sleep benefits.

Tart cherry juice and kiwifruit.

Juiced, dried, or frozen unsweetened tart cherries are used by to the body to create melatonin, ease stiffness and pain from osteoarthritis, and reduced inflation from gout.

Kiwi fruit has similar benefits with a sweeter flavor profile.

Salmon and oysters.

Both of these are high in omega-3 and vitamin D.

Omega 3 works to regulate serotonin.

Potatoes and lima beans.

Lima beans and potatoes can help induce sleep through their amino acids and can encourage staying asleep through their magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6 concentrations.

Although these foods are helpful when it comes to improving sleep quantity and quality, other foods can be disruptive to rest.

Here is the naughty list.


Drinking alcohol prior to bed can affect sleep cycles and stages.

When people wake up, they are often still tired.

Alcohol can also exacerbate sleep walking, memory problems, and sleep apnea (are you snoring?).


Tyramine is found in both tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Their acidic nature can worsen heartburn and stimulate brain activity, keeping people awake.

See “spicy foods” below and “acid reflux” as its consequence.

Spicy foods.

Spicy foods can trigger acid reflux and discomfort.

Best to leave that leftover pizza in the frig for lunch tomorrow.

Deli meats and cured cheese.

These both contain tyramine.

Tyramine can lead to the brain releasing the “flight or fight” hormone norepinephrine.


While chocolate cravings may come out at night, limiting consumption to earlier in the day can improve sleep.

Sticking to dark chocolate has more health benefits.

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids with antioxidant benefits.

If you or your loved ones have chronic insomnia, track foods and medications to determine what might be affecting their sleep.

A little self-diagnosis here, along with a plan to include the good and avoid the bad sleep triggers, can go a long way toward feeling better.

The tough part is the discipline to implement that plan and follow it consistently.

Reference: Seasons (Dec. 17, 2022) “Foods that can help older adults sleep better”

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