Sleep promoting foods: how to eat your way to better sleep!

12 March, 2021

The best foods to help you sleep

It’s official. Australians could do with more sleep. A 2019 report for the Sleep Health Foundation found that 60% of people had trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking and then not being able to get back to sleep. It’s no wonder we’re all so tired (and that was before the COVID pandemic!)

To mark World Sleep Day (slogan “Regular sleep, healthy future”) on March 19, we look at the role nutrition plays in getting good sleep and which foods will improve your snooze. 

Why nuts are good for sleep

Eating a handful of nuts before bed could have you catching some z’s before you know it. Take almonds. As well as being an excellent source of many nutrients and healthy monounsaturated fats, they contain melatonin, which regulates your internal clock and tells your body to prepare for shut-eye. Other attributes include magnesium, which reduces the levels of the sleep-interrupting stress hormone cortisol. 

Other sleep-friendly nuts include:

  • Walnuts: Good source of melatonin and essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which may increase the production of the sleep-regulating chemical serotonin. 
  • Brazil nuts: Contain more of the sleep-promoting mineral selenium than any other nut. 

How kiwis are a sleep saviour

We all know they’re low-calorie, nutritious as well as being yummy but did you know that kiwifruits may also be one of the best fruits to eat before bed? In a study, adults who consumed two kiws one hour before going to bed, fell asleep 42% more quickly than those who didn’t. Their total sleep time also increased by 13%. The reason? Kiwifruits are good sources of serotonin and anti-inflammatory antioxidants which promote sleep.

How fatty fish can benefit your sleep

It may be the last thing you’d want to eat before catching that bus to Sleepytown, but fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, is a powerful recipe for improving sleep, thanks to being a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D. Both have been shown to enhance sleep quality as they increase the production of serotonin.

Fatty fish also has skin-boosting qualities so tuck into some before bedtime and you’ll wake up refreshed and also have great skin! Result.

Other foods that boost serotonin include:

  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Turkey

For a delicious, sleep-boosting dish, consider this salmon and spinach quiche. Or perhaps this pan-seared salmon, pear and walnut salad

What else can I eat or drink to improve my sleep?

Several other foods and drinks may help you to hit the hay – and stay there. They include:

  • White rice
  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal 
  • Dairy products
  • Camomile and passionflower tea.

Conversely, some foods – particularly high-sugar, high-carbohydrate, heavily-processed foods can cause trouble sleeping, as well as add to your waistline. So, give them a swerve if you’re trying to improve your sleep. 

Where can I buy around Chatswood?

For nuts (and seeds, which naturally boost serotonin) head to Horn of Plenty. For everything else, head to Woolies (there’s a Woolworths Metro at Chatswood Interchange).