The Best and Worst Foods for Sleep

The Best and Worst Foods for Sleep

Sleeping Student

Cherries are one of the few natural food sources rich in melatonin

What are the best and worst foods for sleep, and what about them is either useful or hurtful?  Everyone knows that a glass of warm milk will help ease you back into a restful sleep.  I, for one, have never actually tried this trick (most likely due to my intense dislike of milk), but I’ve always had the question:  what’s the secret substance in warm milk that has effectively put people back to sleep for decades? In my research on the subject, I not only found the answer, but I also found a truckload of other foods that effect your sleep, either for better or for worse.  So, here’s a list of the best and worst foods, as well as an explanation of what’s so special about them…

Let’s get The Worst out of the way:

  • Bacon Cheeseburger – Obviously a bacon cheeseburger is hardly beneficial to your overall health, but it’s especially bad for sleep.  According to our sleep experts, the fat content in a burger like this one can produce an abundance of acid that will cause heartburn and effectively keep you up at night.
  • Dark Chocolate – Similar to coffee (which is also not good for sleep), chocolate contains caffeine, especially darker chocolates.  In addition, chocolate also contains the stimulant theobromine, which promotes sleeplessness.
  • Wine – Alcohol in general is pretty terrible for sleep, as it increases your metabolism and will cause you to wake often during the night.  In addition, alcohol increases your chance of snoring, which may not effect you too much, but will leave you with an unhappy partner.
  • Curry – The spices used in curry, especially Indian curry, have been found to result in a very restless sleep, and similar to a burger, rich spices can often produce heartburn.
  • Garlic – In addition to curry, garlic often results in heartburn, especially when mixed with spicy food.  For those prone to acidity, I suggest staying away from garlic before bed.
  • Red Meat – Packed with fats and proteins, red meat digests at a much slower rate than other foods, meaning your stomach will be up all night trying to digest it, and so will you.
  • Celery – As a diuretic veggie, celery promotes urination, which is not necessarily what you want at 3 in the morning.
  • Ice cream – Studies have found that people who eat foods high in sugar right before bed have a higher likelihood of experiencing nightmares.  In addition, sugar keeps your energy levels high, which I’m sure you already know.

The Best:

  • Nonfat Popcorn – Yup, I said it.  Popcorn.  Surprisingly the carbs in a few cups of nonfat popcorn allow your body to produce tryptophan, which in turn helps your body create the sleep-inducing neuro-transmitter, seretonin.
  • Halibut – Any fish fans out there?  Well, you’re in luck.  One of the most helpful food for sleep is a delicious helping of halibut.  Useful and healthy!
  • Garbanzo Beans – A personal favorite, garbanzo beans are packed with the vitamin B6, which your body uses to produce seretonin.
  • Milk – The reason your mother used to always offer you a glass of warm milk to fall asleep?  Milk is filled with tryptophan, the amino acid that aids in producing seretonin!
  • Chamomile Tea – While you should try to stay away from caffeinated drinks beginning in the afternoon, chamomile tea is a great replacement if you are looking for a drink to warm you up before bedtime.  Chamomile tea is known to help calm the body naturally.
  • Cherries – In addition to providing your body with seretonin boosting carbs, cherries are also one of the few natural food sources rich in melatonin, a sleep promoting chemical.  Fun fact:  melatonin has been found to ease the effects of jet lag.
  • Turkey – The reason Thanksgiving always results in a sleepy family gathering?  Turkey is a lean protein that is rich in the amino acid, tryptophan.
  • Bananas – Containing the muscle relaxants magnesium and potassium, bananas are a healthy snack that will leave you with an especially restful and relaxing night of sleep.

Hopefully this list didn’t burst your food bubble too much (we all know how good that bacon cheeseburger looks).  For more information on sleep and the foods that help to promote it, visit our Pinterest page (there are also some yummy recipes on there).

Be sure to read up on good sleep hygiene as well, as that will increase your likelihood of a great nights sleep and help you establish further good habits before bedtime.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can achieve a great night of sleep, talk to our sleep experts at Sleep City.  They love to chat and may even be able to set you up with a nice new bed or a new luxury pillow to help you get the sleep you deserve.

Cheers and sleep well.