Solve Sleep Problems With Healthy Nutrition

Solve Sleep Problems With Healthy Nutrition

Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you tired. It’s closely linked with obesity, reduced cognition, and compromised motor function. Some simple dietary changes may promote sleep so that you get all the rest you need.

A recent study found that diets higher in saturated fat, sugar, and less fiber were associated with more disruptive sleep. Diets higher in fiber and protein allowed people to fall asleep faster and rest more deeply.

Other studies have shown that eating carbohydrates before bed helps people fall asleep quickly by activating brain pathways associated with sleep, however, sleep quality is often reduced. One solution is to choose whole-food carbs that contain natural fiber instead of refined carbs with added sugar and low fiber for your night time snack. For example, instead of cake, cookies, or ice cream, try a bowl of berries.

Another trick is to include foods that promote sleep by raising brain chemicals that are restful. For instance, cherries and kiwis contain melatonin—a hormone that induces sleep. Other foods that aid sleep include barley grass powder, whole grains, maca (a root often available in powdered form), walnuts, ginseng, and lettuce.

The Bottom Line: For a restful night sleep, plan meals around whole foods—plenty of vegetables, fruit and include beans or grains for fiber and healthy carbs.

Eat healthy fats from nuts, fish, avocado, and some dairy, but limit your intake of fatty meats. Be sure to get high-quality protein during the day from eggs, beans, lean meat, fish, and dairy, and include healthy whole carbs at night before bed.

Avoid added sugar, refined carbs, or processed foods high in saturated fat.


St.-Onge, M., et al. Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2016. 12(1): 19–24.

Zeng, Y., et al. Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being. Current Signal Transduction Therapy. 2014.  9(3): 148–155.