What we eat affects what we do and how we feel. While most conversations are centred on food and weight management, food is essential to everything. That includes one of the most essential human functions – rest. Eating the right food can boost your sleep and its quality considerably. So let’s take a look at what you can add to your diet to optimise your sleep times and quality.


We’ve mentioned almonds in an article about power foods before, but their benefits exceed just giving you optimum health. Because they’re rich in magnesium, they can help boost your sleep time. In fact, a study in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine discovered a relationship between low magnesium and very little sleep. So stock up on those almonds. Or any food with a decent amount of magnesium.


Lettuce contains a natural sedative that can help you with sleep. It’s called lactucarium, a nutrient that has the same effect on the brain as opium does, minus the pitfalls of course. If you’re not into salads, you can just leave large leaves of lettuce to simmer for 15 minutes in a cup of water. Let it cool down a bit and add two sprigs of mint. Drink the brew before bed, and you should be alright.


If you don’t have fish in your diet, it may be one reason you’re not sleeping well. Fish, especially salmon and tuna, is rich in vitamin B6. The nutrient is needed by the brain to synthesise melatonin, which is a hormone triggered when you switch off the light, thereby making you sleepy. If you’re vegan, you can eat cherries as alternatives.


Ever noticed Winnie the Pooh taking a nap just after eating a jar of honey? Scientifically speaking, it’s very possible. Honey boasts plenty of glucose, which can send signals to your brain to stop producing orexin. Orexin is known to keep you alert, so the more you have of it in your system, the less likely you are of getting a decent amount of rest.

Dark chocolate

Some of you must be dancing for joy, and for good reason. Dark chocolate (your guilty pleasure) is actually good for sleep. Consuming dark chocolate sends messages to the brain to produce serotonin, which relaxes your mind considerably. So there’s nothing wrong with having a slab handy by the bedside.


Bananas are a rich source of magnesium and potassium, both of which help to relax muscles. But eating bananas not only relaxes your muscles. Bananas also contain vitamin B6, which is used by the brain to convert tryptophan into serotonin. So you should consider eating more bananas as they come with more than one benefit that helps you sleep.

There are plenty more foods that can help you get a good night’s rest. What you need to look out for are nutrients such as lactucarium, magnesium or vitamin B6. These nutrients can either help produce sleep inducing hormones or relax your body. Both of these effects are essential to getting some decent shut eye. So eat right and don’t forget about other ways you can get the best amount of rest.


Sleep Foundation



Insomnia Land