Can You Really ‘Sleep What You Eat?’

By G R

You consider food as fuel for your body or comfort after a tough day. But science and experts say many foods also double as natural sleep aids that bring on sleep or help promote staying asleep all night long.

Here’s a look at some foods sure to lead to a more restful and deeper night’s sleep tonight:


Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, the amino acid thought to help stimulate production of the “sleep hormones” serotonin and melatonin. Research also found that walnuts are also a source of melatonin, so a handful about an hour before bed may help you fall asleep faster.


Almonds are rich in the sleep-inducing mineral magnesium. And a study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that it’s hard to stay asleep when the body’s magnesium levels are too low.

Just like walnuts, a handful of almonds 30 minutes before going to bed can be beneficial for sleep.


Eating white rice for dinner can significantly slash the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep, according to a Harvard study. That’s because white rice has a high glycemic index, which studies show triggers production of serotonin. All white rice is credited with inducing sleep, but jasmine rice helps people fall asleep the fastest, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Cherry juice

Forget warm milk! Wash down your sleepy foods with a glass of cherry juice. A team of U.S. researchers found cherries, especially tart cherries, boost your body’s level of melatonin. According to the study, a glass of cherry juice before bedtime even helped improve insomnia symptoms.

And don’t forget a carbohydrate bedtime snack.

A small, 150-calorie snack before bedtime puts the right amount of energy in your body to promote restful, sound sleep, according to Robert Oexman, a chiropractor and director of Sleep to Live Institute in Joplin, Missouri.

“Carbohydrates in particular are helpful because they trigger an increase of insulin production, and that leads to an increase in the sleep-promoting brain chemical serotonin,” he said.

Oexman recommends eating a half-cup of cooked pasta, whole-grain cereal (with or without a half-cup of skim milk) or 1 teaspoon of peanut butter on half of a whole-grain bagel 30 minutes before hitting the hay.