Best Foods to Help You Sleep

By Rose Reisman

We have all had times where we can’t get to sleep.  When we’re sleep deprived we feel irritable and tired during the day and this can affect our performance.  But it can also put you at a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Those that have trouble sleeping often rely on caffeine to keep alert during the day.  But more than 2 – 3 cups may affect your sleep, especially if drinking later into the day and into the night.  Besides caffeine, big meals that include excess fat, hot spices and sugar may also prevent you from sleeping.  Alcohol in the evening may induce sleep but will give you a restless sleep.  The good news is that certain foods can actually induce sleep.  Here are some ideas for snacks you can eat before going to sleep:

  • Tryptophan.  This amino acid is converted into serotonin and melatonin which help us sleep and relax.  Tryptophan is found in protein-rich items such as dairy products, seafood, meat, poultry, whole grains, beans, lentils, peanuts, eggs and sesame seeds.  Combining a small amount of protein and complex carbs is the perfect snack. Peanut butter or hummus on whole grain crackers is perfect.
  • The calcium in dairy foods helps to increase melatonin.  Try milk, cheese and other dairy in your snack.
  • Whole grain cereal, oatmeal with milk or Greek yogurt.
  • Fruit with a handful of nuts.

Your dinner meal should not be too heavy.  Include meals such as:

  • Omelettes and other light egg dishes.
  • Pasta dishes without cream sauces or extra spice.
  • Salads with a small amount of lean protein.

The key to eating dinner and evening snacks is to keep the portions smaller.  The Mediterraneans have it right by eating their main meals in the middle of the day!


Rose Reisman is a reknowned expert in improving the way Canada lives through diet, nutrition, and lifestyle.

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