9 Foods to Help You Sleep

By: Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.N.

Mango & Kiwi with Fresh Lime Zest

Fact: Women who report better sleep were 33 percent more likely to hit their weight-loss goals, according to a study published in the journal Obesity. Whether you want to doze your way slim, or you just want to wake up feeling more refreshed in the morning, check out these foods that help you sleep.

1. Kiwi

Green Fruit Salad

Recipe to Try: Green Fruit Salad

This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour, found research from Taipei Medical University in Taiwan. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.

2. Soyfoods

South of the Border Buddha Bowl

Recipe to Try: South of the Border Buddha Bowl

Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body's sleep-wake cycle. Adults who ate two or more soy servings a day slept longer and reported the best-quality sleep, according to a 2015 Nutrition Journal study.

3. Fiber-Rich Foods

Blueberry Almond Chia Pudding

Recipe to Try: Blueberry Almond Chia Pudding

Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.

4. Fish

Roast Salmon with Chimmichurri Sauce

Recipe to Try: Roast Salmon with Chimmichurri Sauce

Most fish—and especially salmon, halibut and tuna—boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

5. Tart Cherry Juice

Tart Cherry Juice

In a small study, melatonin-rich tart cherry juice was shown to aid sleep. When adults with chronic insomnia drank a cup of tart cherry juice twice a day they experienced some relief in the severity of their insomnia.

6. Yogurt

Ricotta & Yogurt Parfait

Recipe to Try: Ricotta & Yogurt Parfait

Dairy products like yogurt and milk boast healthy doses of calcium—and there's research that suggests being calcium-deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep.

7. Whole Grains

Pistachio-Crusted Chicken with Warm Barley Salad

Recipe to Try: Pistachio-Crusted Chicken with Warm Barley Salad

Bulgur, barley and other whole grains are rick in magnesium—and consuming too little magnesium may make it harder to stay asleep, reported the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.

8. Kale

Sauteed Broccoli & Kale with Toasted Garlic Butter

Recipe to Try: Sauteed Broccoli & Kale with Toasted Garlic Butter

Dairy products are well-known calcium-rich foods. But green leafy vegetables, such as kale and collards, also boast healthy doses of calcium. And research suggests that being calcium deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep.

9. Bananas

Almond Butter & Banana Protein Smoothie

Recipe to Try: Almond Butter & Banana Protein Smoothie

Bananas, well-known for being rich in potassium, are also a good source of Vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Watch: Eat These Foods to Sleep Better

Some original reporting by Brierley Wright, M.S, R.D.

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