Nutrition for Better Sleep

You know how it feels. When you’ve have had poor quality or an insufficient amount of sleep, and crave higher energy foods like refined carbohydrates, sugars, fatty foods, starchy vegetables, and caffeine, or just have a straight up snack attack.

How does what we eat affect our sleep?

Sleep has a restorative effect on the immune system and our hormones, balances metabolism, and facilitates the recovery of the muscles and nervous system after physical and mental stress. Good quality sleep is also vital for learning, memory and the structural health of our brains.

We know that sugar, alcohol, and caffeine affect our sleep quality, but it can advance or delay our circadian rhythms too (Doherty et al., 2019). Great for when you’re working shifts or changing timezones but not so good for your health and wellbeing. But what about other foods?


Nutrients like Iron, Zinc, and Magnesium help you to sleep for longer, and Copper, Potassium and Vitamin B12 help to regulate sleep cycles when you’re sleeping for too long (Ji, Grandner & Liu, 2017). Yes, that’s a thing!

What Can We Eat For a Better Sleep?


If you’re struggling to regulate your sleep cycles, start with your gut health. Our gut microbiota can influence so many things, including our sleeping patterns. Prebiotics in particular help to regulate our circadian rhythms so including foods like chicory root which is high in inulin, as well as bananas, apples, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, onions and leeks.


Despite their sometimes less favourable reputation in the evening, carbohydrates at dinner time can increasing REM sleep and reduce the amount of time spent in a light sleep state, especially if you’re an active person (Doherty et al., 2019). This means your memory, learning ability, moods, and relaxation all benefit from a healthy serve of complex carbohydrates before bed.

Good mood foods

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor to melatonin and serotonin, which are both essential for sleep (Ji, Grandner & Liu, 2017); they affect the onset and restfulness of your sleep, respectively. Great sources of tryptophan include milk if you tolerate it, turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, beans, peanuts, cheese, and leafy green vegetables.


Long thought to improve sleep duration and sleep quality, cherries —particularly sour cherry concentrate — increases circulating melatonin levels and improves sleep time and quality. Sounds like a perfect excuse to enjoy some cherries for dessert.


One that may be a surprise addition to your sleepy time toolkit is the humble kiwifruit. Packed full of nutrients that benefit moods, sleep, inflammation, gut health and more, including vitamins C, E, and K, folate, antioxidants, potassium, copper and of course, fibre.


While it seems obvious to avoid the common culprits that affect sleep, it’s also great to keep in mind how you can nourish your body to give it the best chance of a restful night, so you can make the most of your day when you wake up!


Doherty, R., Madigan, S., Warrington, G., & Ellis, J. (2019). Sleep and Nutrition Interactions: Implications for Athletes. Nutrients, 11(4), 822.

Ji, X., Grandner, M. A., & Liu, J. (2017). The relationship between micronutrient status and sleep patterns: a systematic review. Public health nutrition, 20(4), 687–701.



Ceri Kidby-Salom


she / her


Registered Nutritionist (BHSc), Bpsych, Health, Life & Inner Work Coach


Fav Health Hack:

Add a scoop of coconut collagen to your AM coffee for sustained caffeine release and a protein boost!





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