Tackle Sleep Problems With Diet: Best and Worst Plant-Based Foods for Sleep

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Whether you’re dealing with occasional sleep problems or full-on insomnia, tweaking your diet may just be able to help. Here are some foods for sleep and some foods to avoid.

Before we get to the best foods for sleep, it’s important to look at where in your day you might be sabotaging your sleep. Overeating or eating foods that upset your belly can cause sleep problems, of course. It might be worth keeping a food journal for a few weeks to see if your sleep problems correspond with any foods that you’re eating. Everyone’s body is different, so a food that causes you issues may not be an issue for someone else.

Three Worst Foods for Sleep

1. Greasy Foods. Skip the fries at supper if you’re having trouble sleeping. There is research indicating that eating high-fat foods can disrupt sleep.

2. Caffeine. Caffeine too late in the day can be an issue, so you might want to have a cutoff for coffee, caffeinated teas and soda. Also keep an eye out for medications that can contain caffeine. Start with a six-hours-before-bed cutoff, and if you’re still having sleep problems, try cutting off that last cup of coffee a bit earlier each day until you find your body’s sweet spot.

3. Booze. Alcohol too close to bedtime might help you fall asleep, but it can also disrupt sleep throughout the night.

Of course, cutting out the worst foods for sleep is only half the battle…

Plant-Based Foods That Help You Sleep

1. Nuts. Eat a few handfuls of almonds, peanuts or hazelnuts. Nuts contain tryptophan, an amino acid needed to produce melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.

2. Bananas. Bananas also contain tryptophan, and they’re easy to digest, making them a good before-bed snack.

3. Dates. These sweet treats are another plant-based source of tryptophan. Eat a few as-is, toss them into your green smoothie, or use them to make a refined sugar-free raw pie crust.

4. Chamomile tea. Pretty much any warm, decaffeinated tea helps calm you down, but chamomile in particular is very relaxing. It contains powerful antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory compounds that help you relax so you can get to sleep.

5. Whole grains. A bowl of oatmeal or side of quinoa will stimulate insulin production in your body. Insulin helps rid your bloodstream of other amino acids which might compete with the tryptophan. Whole grains also contain a good amount of magnesium. If you suffer from chronic insomnia, a magnesium deficiency may be part of the problem.

6. Kale and Collards — These dark, leafy superstars are excellent plant-based sources of magnesium. A side-effect of magnesium deficiency is insomnia, so adding a few magnesium-rich foods to your menu might just help you snooze!


One should consult a Rav regarding checking of problematic vegetables for infestation.