If you struggle to get enough rest at night, you might find some relief by switching up your diet to include specific foods that help you sleep. Thanks to their sleep-promoting qualities, there are quite a few deliciously good foods to eat before bedtime for a more restful evening.

At the Slumber Yard, we’re all about promoting good sleep, which is why we’ve put together this guide on the best foods to eat before bed. We’ve also included information about foods that negatively impact your sleep, so you can stay away from them if you’re prone to restless nights.

Foods That Can Help You Sleep

You might be wondering: why do certain foods promote better sleep? The answer is that there are foods that contain ingredients that can cause you to get sleepy. 

For example, you’re likely already familiar with tryptophan, the amino acid that’s found in turkey and puts you to sleep after Thanksgiving dinner. But there are also other ingredients (such as nutrients, chemicals and hormones) found in food and have a similar sleep-inducing impact on the body.

Some of the ingredients that make you sleepy include: 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the foods that contain these ingredients to help you fall asleep.

1. Walnuts 

Other than turkey, walnuts are one of the most well-known tryptophan foods out there. They also contain melatonin, which is a primary sleep-promoting ingredient. As a result, snacking on walnuts before bed could lead to a better night’s sleep — as long as you aren’t allergic to nuts.

2. Warm Milk 

Drinking a glass of warm milk is already a popular nighttime ritual, but there is scientific evidence that it might improve your sleep. That’s because milk is full of ingredients that contribute to sleep, including tryptophan, serotonin and B vitamins. So why drink it warm? It’s simple: the warmth can be soothing and ease you into sleep.

3. Salmon

Fatty fish like salmon contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to better sleep. Incorporating salmon and other fatty fish (like mackerel, tuna and sardines) into your diet can not only help you consume essential amino acids and promote better sleep, but they can also help you reach your required intake of protein and vitamin D.

4. Tart cherries

According to recent research, consuming tart cherries or tart cherry juice before bed can help you fall and stay asleep by increasing the amount of melatonin in your body. In particular, researchers looked at the effectiveness of Montmorency cherries, which are melatonin rich foods and grow around North America.

5. Whole-grain carbohydrates

Eating a piece of wholemeal toast or whole-grain crackers before bed can promote serotonin release in your body, helping you fall asleep faster. These types of complex carbohydrates can stabilize your blood sugar levels and your quality of sleep. Add some peanut butter for protein and slower absorption of the carbs overnight.

6. Chamomile tea

Chamomile is well-known for its calming properties, which makes it a popular choice for a bedtime tea. Studies have found that chamomile tea effectively puts participants into a deep sleep immediately after drinking it. Also, the steam and warmth from your cup of tea can encourage you to de-stress and relax.

7. Bananas

As another one of the top tryptophan foods on our list, bananas have quite a few nutrients that help you get better sleep. They’re packed with potassium, which has been found to boost sleep efficiency and magnesium, improving sleep quality. Plus, adding bananas to your diet can help you hit your daily recommended servings of fruit.

8. Kiwi

We’ve already discussed several different fruits that help you sleep, and kiwi is another one of those good foods to eat before bedtime. In one study, researchers discovered that eating two kiwifruits an hour before bed helped participants significantly increase their time asleep and the quality of their slumber.

9. Peanut butter

Peanut butter is a tasty snack at any hour of the day, but eating a spoonful or two before bed can help you get a more restful night’s sleep. It contains tryptophan, which contributes to the production of melatonin and serotonin. Also, if you tend to snack during the night, peanut butter can help you stay full and avoid late-night temptation.

10. Poultry

As we mentioned earlier, turkey is probably the most famous of all tryptophan foods. But other types of poultry (including chicken) also include this essential amino acid. So if you need a good rest, you can try preparing a roast chicken or turkey dinner to promote sleepiness. 

Foods That Can Negatively Affect Sleep

Although it’s useful to understand which foods to eat before bed for good sleep, it’s equally important to consider the foods that can keep you up at night. Here’s a look at some of the foods that can interrupt your beauty rest.

Spicy foods

Indulging in fiery dishes (like hot sauce or wings) before bed can trigger an upset stomach or heartburn, which can keep you up at night. If possible, avoid these types of foods at dinnertime to get a more restful evening. 

Fried And Greasy Foods

Similarly, eating things like fried chicken or greasy burgers can irritate your tummy and take a long time to digest. Instead, look for lighter and more nutritious foods that will help you sleep — like the ones listed above.


It shouldn’t surprise you to see caffeine on this list of foods to avoid before bed. But you might not realize that caffeine isn’t just in coffee and energy drinks. It’s also found in chocolate and coffee or chocolate-flavored desserts.


Drinking alcohol can indeed help you get to sleep quicker than you normally would. However, your quality of sleep suffers when you’re under the influence. In turn, a subpar night of sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness afterward. 

Alternative Remedies

Other than consuming foods that make you sleepy, you can also try alternative remedies to get to bed quicker. Look for products that relax your body and mind, including the following options: 

  • Valerian root is an herbal remedy that’s made from a valerian plant. It’s used in many different cultures to promote calmness and alleviate mild pain.
  • Melatonin supplements can be useful if you have trouble sleeping and don’t enjoy any foods with melatonin. 
  • Essential oils such as lavender oil can help you unwind and get a better night’s sleep. 
  • Magnesium supplements will increase your intake of this vital mineral, which helps relax your body and promote sleep.
What to eat when you can’t sleep?When you can’t fall or stay asleep, you should look for foods with melatonin or tryptophan. Both of these ingredients play an important role in getting a good night’s rest.
What foods make you tired fast?If you’re ready to get to bed but can’t seem to fall asleep, try grabbing a piece of fruit that contains sleep-promoting ingredients (like kiwi or bananas) or some nuts (walnuts or peanut butter).
What foods are high in melatonin?There are a number of melatonin rich foods that can help you get a better night’s sleep, including tart cherries, fatty fish and nuts.
What foods are best to eat before bed?If you need help falling asleep, look for nutritious foods that promote the production of serotonin in your body. Some examples include chamomile tea, bananas and whole-grain carbohydrates.
What foods not to eat before sleeping?It’s best to avoid any foods that would irritate your stomach or trigger heartburn, including spicy, greasy, and acidic foods. You should also skip alcohol and caffeine.
Is it OK to eat before bed?If you want to eat before bed, try and stick with foods that won’t keep you awake. Stay away from large portions and instead opt for tryptophan foods or melatonin rich foods to ease into your slumber.

Final thoughts

Now that you’re familiar with the good foods to eat before bedtime (and which ones to avoid), you can improve the length and quality of your sleep. By incorporating melatonin and tryptophan into your diet, you’ll be on your way to enjoying more restful evenings.

However, it’s important to mention that you should consult with a medical professional before making any changes to your diet. Your doctor will let you know if any of these foods that help you sleep will interfere with your current medications and determine if you need another form of treatment.