Eating for Better Sleep

May 1, 2016

Great-SleepWhether you are the parent of a newborn or the parent of teenagers, sleep can be hard to come by. Or, you may be an empty nester or altogether childless – it doesn’t matter. Almost everyone has had trouble sleeping at some point in their lives and there are so many factors that can affect the quality and quantity of our sleep. These factors include (but are not limited to) stress, illness, travel, and aging. Unfortunately, today’s busy lifestyle does not always go hand in hand with quality sleep.

Fortunately, there are some ways that we can encourage our bodies to get more and better quality sleep. One way is by snacking! Of course, it is important to keep these snacks light and to make sure that the snacks you consume encourage restful shut eye. Here is a list of good snacks to try so that you can get the beauty rest you crave!

  • Peanut butter – Peanut butter is a magical protein! The beneficial ingredients in peanut butter include L-tryptophan which is an amino acid that is the metabolic precursor of serotonin.  Serotonin is a type of chemical that functions as a neurotransmitter to assist in relaying signals from one area of the brain to another. Serotonin is known to have a general sedative effect.   So by eating peanut butter before bedtime, you could raise the level of L-tryptophan in your brain. This will then increase the production of serotonin and produce a natural sedation that will help you fall asleep.
  • Banana – Bananas provide several ways of combating insomnia and helping you doze off.  Bananas contain tryptophan and, in addition, they are high in potassium and magnesium. Both minerals are excellent for helping tired and tense muscles to relax. Getting your muscles to relax helps the rest of your body relax as well and this of course, makes it easier to drift off. Combine bananas and peanut butter for a perfect before bedtime snack and you will be nodding off before you know it!
  • Honey – Honey is high in sugar but a little bit goes a long way. All you need is a teaspoon. Try mixing it into chamomile tea or unsweetened yogurt. Honey will raise your insulin level just slightly. This then, makes it easier for tryptophan to travel to your brain.
  • Fish – Fish is absolutely full of beneficial nutrients but one of the most helpful is vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 aids the body in producing melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is essential in maintaining the body’s circadian rhythm and promoting sleep. Melatonin also helps us stay asleep, so if you are plagued with waking up at 3am and not being able to fall back asleep, fish may be the perfect snack for you. Type of fish with the highest levels of B6 include salmon, tuna, and halibut.
  • Tart cherry juice – You can find tart cherry juice at your local health food store or natural grocer’s. This juice is an excellent anti-inflammatory and it is one of the best boosters of melatonin.
  • Whole grains – Whole grains are a fabulous choice for a small evening snack. They are low in sugar and high in complex carbs. Complex carbs help increase tryptophan in the body. There are plenty of choices like crackers, cereal, and breads. Try them topped with a little peanut butter or honey and then settle in a peaceful night’s rest.


Quality sleep is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle and is right up there with diet and exercise. When we are well rested we handle stress better, our immune systems are stronger, and it is easier to maintain our weight. Eating small portions of these snacks can be a great addition to your bedtime routine and can help you get the restorative and refreshing sleep that you need!