What are Some Foods That Help with Sleep?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Many people experience sleep problems from time to time. Sleeping issues may range from the occasional night where sleep seems to be improbable to situations where an individual is suffering from an ongoing state of insomnia. Often, healthcare professionals will recommend dietary changes as one way of dealing with sleep disorders. This involves the elimination of some foods from the diet, as well as adding in foods that help with sleep. Here are some examples of foods to add into the diet when getting to sleep seems to be a problem.

One of the most time-honored of foods that help with sleep is a cup of warm milk. There is actually some scientific basis for this time honored sleep aid. Dairy products such as milk are a good source of tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the body and can help promote sleep. Milk is also a good source of calcium, which is known to help calm the body and thus help with relaxing enough to sleep. Of course, there are many other foods rich in calcium that may be helpful. Cheese, salmon, broccoli, and tofu or bean curd are all excellent sources of calcium, and may be helpful in getting to sleep.


Other foods that help with sleep include those that contain significant amounts of magnesium. Various types of beans are loaded with magnesium, as are spinach, almonds, and cashews. Some health experts recommend combining a source of calcium with a source of magnesium to enhance the chances of calming the body and thus getting to sleep, such as a cup of warm milk with a handful of almonds.

Herbs may be helpful as well. For many, a brewed cup of chamomile or passion flower tea will relax the nerves and allow sleep to come. Basil, dill, and sage also are among the natural foods that help with sleep, and are often found in any spice rack.

Meats such as tuna and turkey also contain tryptophan and thus may prove helpful bringing on relaxation and sleep. Egg whites are another excellent example of foods that help with sleep problems, and can be safely cooked and enjoyed in just a few minutes time. Even a bowl of whole grain cereal with some milk may prove to be ideal foods that help with sleep, since the nutrient content of the whole grain coupled with the tryptophan in the milk can calm the system and prepare one for sleep.

For people who are experiencing insomnia, physicians often supply food charts that recommend foods that should be avoided, as well as ideas for foods that help with sleep. Before choosing to take a prescription sleep aid, try making adjustments to the diet and see if sleep comes more easily.


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