7 Foods for a Great Night’s Sleep

By Marygrace Taylor

If you’re tired of counting sheep, try eating fish. According to Greek research, high levels of omega-3 fatty acids—the healthy lipid found in fatty fish such as salmon—is associated with better sleep quality in adults with sleep apnea.

Omega-3s make it easier for the body to process melatonin, the hormone that helps keep your sleep-wake cycle in sync, which in turn helps you fall asleep.

Not a fan of seafood? No problem. Omega-3-rich fish isn’t the only food that could help you snooze more soundly. “There’s such an interrelationship between diet and sleep. Healthier eating will actually help you sleep better—and sleep sufficiency is also a key to making better food choices,” said Terry Cralle, a registered nurse and certified clinical sleep educator.

Add these nutritious picks to your diet, she said, and increase your odds of saying hello to a full night’s rest:

Tart cherry juice: Tart cherries are one of the best food sources of the hormone melatonin. And insomniacs who sipped 16 ounces of the melatonin-rich juice twice a week boosted their sleep time by a whopping 90 minutes, found one Louisiana State University study.

Brazil nuts: A diet that’s low in selenium could equal less sleep, suggested recent research. Nosh on just one buttery Brazil nut, and you’ll get more than a day’s worth of this snooze-inducing mineral.

Cheese and whole grain crackers: Protein-rich foods such as cheese contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can induce drowsiness. And the crackers, which are rich in complex carbohydrates, make more tryptophan available to your brain, Cralle said.

A glass of milk: Milk is loaded with calcium, which may help your body produce more melatonin. For an extra boost, pick a milk that’s fortified with vitamin D: One study found that having too little of the vitamin could cause daytime sleepiness.

Baked sweet potato: The sweet flesh and custard-like texture make this nighttime snack practically taste like dessert. Which is a great thing, since sweet potatoes are high in potassium, a mineral with muscle-relaxing properties that could make it easier for you to nod off, Cralle said.

Oatmeal: Like whole grain crackers, oatmeal is packed with sleep-inducing complex carbohydrates. It’s a good source of melatonin, too.