Short on shut-eye? These foods will help you get through the day.

As we all probably know, sleep is super important. Not only is catching enough shut-eye important for feeling energized and focused, but it also is crucial for healthy immunity, heart health, glowing skin and weight stabilization. Even though we all would prefer to get ample sleep, it can be hard to come by. If you have a bad night of sleep, don't sweat it too much. Lean on foods and drinks, like these, to help give you a boost until you're able to get the rest you need. Here are the dietitian-recommended foods to eat and drink when you don't get enough sleep. 


Water is far and away the most important drink when you are short on sleep. Though it might be tempting to turn to coffee or tea, research suggests that you do otherwise. Dehydration can lead to not-so-pleasant side effects like overeating, moodiness and headaches, which can be especially draining if you're lacking sleep. Staying hydrated will help you feel energized in the short and long term. It is also important for your brain, skin, heart and more. Carry a water bottle with you to make it easy to sip throughout the day (check out how much water you need by the numbers for more). 

Coffee and Tea 

Even though drinking enough water is super important, there is nothing wrong with having a moderate amount of caffeine, especially if you are feeling groggy. Plus, there are even some impressive health benefits from drinking coffee and tea. Beyond boosting mood and increasing alertness, compounds in coffee may even improve heart health, brain health, diabetes and more. Tea contains compounds that, when regularly consumed, may decrease stroke and cancer risk and also, when un-caffeinated, can improve sleep in the long term. Whether it's a caffeinated tea or coffee to give you a boost midday, or a decaffeinated herbal tea to wind down at night, these drinks can help you get through tired days. 

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a great option for sustained energy when you hit an afternoon lull. They are packed with healthy fats, protein and fiber to help you feel full for longer and satisfied. Not only that, but nuts like walnuts are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows can promote healthy sleep. Seeds, like chia seeds and flaxseeds are packed with fiber, and fiber is a crucial nutrient for getting better sleep.

A tired woman drinking coffee in the morning
Credit: Getty Images / mapodile

Fiber-Rich Foods 

There are several reasons why fiber is great for sleep. Fiber helps keep our blood sugar steady for longer periods of time, so you can avoid the spikes and crashes that send our energy levels on a roller coaster. Eating enough fiber can also improve the quality of sleep we get, so it'll help you make up for a not-so-restful night. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are packed with healthy fiber to help you get enough. 


Eggs are a great food to help keep us energized on sleepy days. They are high in protein which makes them filling and satisfying. Not to mention, they are super versatile and affordable. Eggs are also a great source of vitamin B12, which helps our cells metabolize energy and function at our best. Protein is especially important on days you don't get enough sleep, so having our Easy Loaded Baked Omelet Muffins for breakfast or Shakshuka for dinner can help you keep fatigue at bay. 

Calcium-Rich Foods 

Foods like dairy, soybeans, sardines and leafy greens are worthwhile additions to your plate for when you need an energy boost. Not only are they high in protein to keep you feeling fueled, but also they are packed with calcium. Not having enough calcium in your day-to-day can make it challenging to get quality sleep. Research hypothesizes that this could be because of calcium's ability to maintain a healthy blood pressure. 

Iron-Rich Foods 

Not getting enough iron can lead to general fatigue and even anemia in the long term. Iron is the main nutrient that delivers oxygen throughout our bodies. If you don't have enough iron in your blood, oxygen might not be able to get where it needs to go, resulting in a lack of energy. To help you feel energized on a regular basis, make sure to include iron-rich foods like spinach, kale, red meat and clams into your eating pattern. Clams in particular are also rich in energy-boosting nutrients like vitamin B12 and coenzyme Q10

Bottom Line 

Sleep is super important for short and long term health and wellness. To be clear, you can't eat or drink your way out of not getting enough sleep. To help you feel more energized, try adjusting your pattern to help you get at least seven hours a night. For days when you didn't catch any zzz's, these foods can help boost your energy and set you up for better sleep in nights to come.