The Best & Worst Foods For Sleep

oatmeal with fruit and nuts

Whether you experience a sudden boost after a cup of coffee, or feel drowsy after a big meal, most people have experienced how food can affect their energy and alertness. You can take advantage of certain foods to improve your sleep – and cut the foods that negatively affect your rest.

The 5 Best Foods for Sleep

Cherries or Cherry Juice

Tart cherries contain an above-average concentration of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate circadian rhythm and promotes healthy sleep, and also contain an antioxidant that is conducive to sleep.

Fatty Fish

A study found that fatty fish can be good for sleep, finding that people who ate salmon three times per week experienced better overall sleep as well as improved daytime functioning. Researchers believe that fatty fish may support sleep by providing a healthy dose of Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids, which are involved in the body’s regulation of serotonin.


Eating a kiwi or two before bed can help some people not only fall asleep faster, but also sleep better and longer, according to research. Kiwis contain serotonin, which breaks down to melatonin, the hormone that encourages sleep. Add a serving or two of kiwi later in the day, or perhaps as a pre-bedtime snack.


Nuts provide a dose of healthy fats, along with protein and fiber. This combination results in satiety, keeping you content both while awake and asleep. Also, nuts are a good source of magnesium! Many people sleep better when they incorporate more magnesium-rich foods into their diets.


A bowl of oatmeal is a great choice that can help improve sleep. It’s not widely known, but whole grains trigger the brain to produce serotonin, making it easier to fall asleep. Oats are a source of melatonin that promote the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the brain.

Now that we know some food options to shop for to boost our sleep, it’s best to also be aware of foods that do the opposite and should be avoided.

donut filled with chocolate

The 5 Worst Foods for Sleep


This is not likely a surprise. While you may feel relaxed and even drowsy after a glass of wine or two, alcohol negatively impacts your sleep. It metabolizes relatively quickly, so you end up waking up as it starts to wear off. It can also make snoring worse, so avoid that nightcap you were thinking about.


Not only are chips fried, but they can be greasy. Studies show that greasy foods before sleep can actually lead to nightmares. Not only will you have trouble falling asleep thanks to digestive issues, but you might also wake up from an unpleasant dream during the night. Save the chips for the afternoon!


Everyone loves chocolate, but it does contain caffeine, which can be stimulating, so if you're sensitive, you'll want to steer clear. While dark chocolate is lower in sugar and high in antioxidants, it's higher in caffeine.


Both high-sugar and high-fat foods can prove to be problematic before bed, and donuts are one of the worst foods to eat before bed. They cause a spike in blood sugar and the digestive issues that come with high-fat foods.


Known to cause heartburn and acid reflux, tomatoes are not a good choice pre-bedtime. Once you lie down, gravity no longer keeps the acidity from the tomatoes from crawling up your esophagus and making your night miserable.