The Impact of Diet on Sleep: Foods to Embrace and Avoid for Better Rest

Getting enough sleep can be challenging for adults. Most turn to supplements and over-the-counter sleep aids to improve their rest.

Quality sleep has many benefits for your body. It helps improve the immune system’s functions and affects your blood pressure and heart health. It brings light to the reason why, when you’re sick, sleep can help.

However, your diet also impacts sleep. Finding the right foods to embrace and knowing which to avoid can help you get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling more refreshed. 

Here are the best foods to help you sleep and which foods you can avoid to ensure you rest better at night.

Best Foods to Embrace for Better Rest

Nutrition and sleep play significant roles in your overall health, so you should pay attention to the foods you eat. Getting enough sleep at night also helps maintain a healthy body weight. 

It can be helpful to consider the many vegan options that help improve cognitive function and improve your sleep. You can turn to hugging a pillow for sleep therapy after enjoying a vegan meal before bed.


Fish that are fatty in such foods as mackerel and salmon, are foods that work to promote healthy brain function and improve mental health. Both of these benefits work to aid you in having better sleep. They contain many nutrients like Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which regulate serotonin levels.


Eggs are an excellent food for better sleep, so don’t avoid having breakfast for dinner! Eggs contain the hormone melatonin, which is what your body produces to help circulate circadian (heart) rhythms and improve the overall sleep cycle. 


Milk is a beverage that also contains melatonin. You may have heard the old-fashioned saying, “A glass of warm milk before bed” can help you sleep, and it’s not so far off. Consider adding milk to your nighttime tea or pouring a glass of milk at night, and you may discover you fall asleep far easier.


Bananas are another great food for sleep because they are high in magnesium. Magnesium high in the body is associated with better sleep, less tiredness during the day, and more extended sleep periods. By eating more bananas, the magnesium also helps to support muscle growth, healthy digestion, and heart health.


The lean protein found in turkey helps lower blood pressure. It also contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that plays a crucial role in sleep. Tryptophan helps create melatonin and serotonin and works to calm the body (reducing anxiety) and balance hormones. 

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are similar to bananas because they contain high magnesium levels. The zinc, copper, and selenium found in pumpkin seeds are suitable for the quality and duration of your sleep. A handful of them as a nighttime snack is great before bed to help promote a good night’s rest. 


Last but not least, adding some decaf tea to your nighttime routine is great for sleep. Three primary types of tea can be most beneficial: chamomile, Valerian (also called ‘sleepy time’), and Passion Flower. These types are very calming and help relax the body, so you can be sure to go to bed ready to fall asleep with ease.

Foods to Avoid for Better Rest

Now that you’re focused on foods that will be good for your sleep, here are some foods you should avoid at nighttime when preparing for bed.


Even though you may notice that consuming alcohol at night makes you more tired, limiting the amount you drink is necessary for a good night’s sleep. Alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle and doesn’t allow your body to rest fully, so you’ll often wake up feeling fatigued.


Added sugars in foods are harmful to your sleep. Foods that are processed or higher in added sugars are stimulating for your brain and body. They cause spikes in your blood sugar and can cause you to wake feeling thirsty or needing to use the bathroom, so they don’t allow you to feel calm and ready for rest. 


You should avoid that nighttime cup of coffee and swap it out for some decaffeinated tea. Caffeinated drinks like sodas are stimulants that work to keep you alert and awake rather than calm and rested. Caffeine actually works to delay the timing of your internal body’s clock, so it reduces the duration and quality of your sleep.

Sleep and Nutrition

Giving yourself plenty of time to prepare for bed is essential to ensuring your sleep quality. Avoid certain stimulants in food and drink that can make it more challenging for you to feel calm, fall asleep quickly, and get more rest.

If you want to improve your sleep quality, it may be time to examine your eating habits and change your diet. It can be helpful to speak with your doctor or healthcare professional to see what you can change nutritionally and routinely to help you get the best night’s rest. 

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