Sweet Dreams: 6 Foods To Eat Before Bed

  • Sleep is a biological rhythm. Any nutrient deficiencies can result in depression: insomnia and other neural damage.
  • High melatonin and serotonin influence the sleep-wake cycles.
  • While lower hormonal levels cause sleepless nights, fatigue, stress, and reduced cognitive abilities.
  • Adding a variety of foods to meal plates can boost brain functionality. And you’ll experience sweet and sound nights of sleep.
Are you feeling tired early in the morning? If yes, then this could be due to an improper sleep pattern or trouble sleeping at night. Your mood, learning, creativity, and behavior are all interconnected with sleep and digestion. Sleep cycles can be influenced by a chemical named “Melatonin”, which is controlled by the brain. Regulating the presence of melatonin can help avoid sleep issues. One way to do this is by incorporating certain foods to eat before bed into your diet. These foods are rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and antioxidants. Foods that are high in melatonin, serotonin, antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, and copper also play vital roles in promoting better sleep.

Today many of us are struggling with mental well-being because of the pandemic. Many are undergoing anxiety, depression, and insomnia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 280 million people are standing out in these categories. Research over the last few years indicates the influence of dietary food on our cognitive, molecular, and neurological processing.

You can adopt healthy food choices before going to bed to overcome illness and its adverse effects. Adding a variety of foods will give you nutrients. Those nutrients will not only boost your energy but will also nourish the cells of your body.

Hormones and Better Sleep Connection:

For a healthy lifestyle, you need healthy habits, among them is the habit of having a variety of foods. Tired of sleepless nights then nourish your body with the necessary nutrients. You might be familiar with the Melatonin hormone.

But did you know its connection with the sleep-wake cycle? You can refer to melatonin as a sleep hormone. Which produces in the pineal gland of the brain, from where it enters the bloodstream. Its level starts rising in the darkness thus helping you have good sleep. A reduced level of melatonin will cause conditions such as insomnia.

You can improve melatonin levels in the body by having fruits, nuts, or cereals. Choose kiwi, red grapes, walnut, dates, and rice for better sleep. Supplement yourself with hale and hearty foods containing antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Tart cherries, fish, and eggs can also be good choices of foods. The reason you should have them is they help you sleep because of the melatonin presence. Take a few seconds to look into melatonin count in various foods:

Food Melatonin Content
3-114 ng/g
3-4 ng/g
300-1,000 pg/g
1-11 ng/g
Unprocessed Cow Milk
3-25 pg/ml
Milk at Night
10-40 ng/ml

Expression of the sleep-wake cycle is also related to Serotonin Hormone. About 90 percent of this hormone comes from the gut while it is also produced in the pineal gland of the brain. It controls the regulation of circadian rhythm. Serotonin levels if decreased lead to neurological disorders and depression. Now you must be thinking about how you can have serotonin to help you in sleeping. Well, it’s super-easy; make smart choices of food. But there exists no direct food source for the serotonin hormone. However; you can raise your body’s serotonin levels from indirect sources of food. This means if you consume a diet high in protein you will get serotonin from them. Proteinic foods contain the amino acid tryptophan. These amino acids when simplified produce serotonin at the end of metabolism.

The Connection Between Food and Sleep:

Generally, we perceive we need food for stronger immunity and regular activities. In reality, food has a strong connection on neurological and molecular grounds. In short, a healthier brain will help you to have deep sleep. For instance; Omega-3 fatty acids boost the cognitive responses of a person and help in sleeping. Research shows that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are useful in neurodegenerative disorders. Thus adding fish, soybeans, and flaxseeds bring omega 3 fatty acids. Fortified foods such as yogurt, milk, eggs, and other beverages also boost your brain’s functionality.

Like every machine needs fuel to operate. Likewise, we also need fuel for body mechanisms and functioning. This fuel is “Food, oxygen, and sleep”. We need antioxidants to get rid of oxidative stress that mutilates body cells. For gearing up body cells we need nutrient fuel in the form of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, folates, and proteins. That is why you must keep simple, delicious, and nutrient-load plates in everyday meals.

What if I Am Having Insomnia?

Are you sleeping right? Does your day start with fatigue and tiredness? Do you have a problem with inadequate sleep? Are you waking up the whole night or sleeping only a few hours? You might be but not for sure struggling with Insomnia. Most people try methods like switching off smart mobiles or quitting caffeine to help sleep. Few think lying for a long time or lowering the lights will help you fall asleep; well, this isn’t true. You can’t fight against insomnia with these random things. All you need is to enrich your diet with a variety of foods. You can find a bunch of edibles that smoothen the biological rhythm of sleep.

Foods To Eat Before Bed:

Here is the list of a few edibles that can be the best choice before going to bed:

Nuts and dates:

Your health and your sleep cycle are all now in your hands. You can work with late-night cravings by having dates and nuts before going to bed. This will soothe your hunger as well as help to sleep. Nuts such as almonds contain loads of nutrients and dietary fibers. Almonds are a full-pack source of melatonin minerals, vitamin E, biotin, and antioxidants. Nutrient-dense properties of nuts make them the best choice for people. Especially those who need a healthy gut and brain for sound sleep. You should count the calorie intake according to your age and weight to avoid obesity. Walnut, pistachio, and cashews, also regulate melatonin levels. And count towards food for a night’s sleep.

Dairy foods:

Diary items are one of the best foods that are probiotics rich. Also, they contain Tryptophan proteins. Probiotics mean they have micro-organisms that are essential for a healthy gut. Yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, and butter are great pick-ups. This is for their amino acid tryptophan (TRP) and probiotics. This TRP amino acid metabolism processes the serotonin hormone which is the active element for sleep-wake cycles. You must bring flavor and energy during the day and night with dairy foods.

Fruits and vegetables:

Consuming more from this group will help you more ZZZs with longer and quality sleep. Fruits and vegetables freshen up the healthy gut and boost heart-brain performance. Improve your sleep cycle and fight insomnia by making vegetables and fruits your best buddy. Spinach, kale, tomatoes, potatoes, or carrots bring you nutrients that work in relation to sleep hormones. Fruits like bananas, cherries, or kiwi contain potassium and TRP amino acid. Both potassium and TRP amino acids aid in better sleep. On average five meals of fruits and vegetables show fascinating results on the body.

Dates and date palm:

One of the beneficial nutrient sources is to have dates in the diet. They contain high values of melatonin, proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants. Around sixteen minerals in dates gives you a valuable pack of energy. Using dates will give you immense natural benefits from the inside to the outside of your body.

Poultry and seafood:

Meat, chicken, and fatty fish are great sources of proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. Proteins break down into tryptophan amino acids. Which then stimulates the serotonin and melatonin pathways. Vitamin B6 present in fish activates melatonin. Thus your circadian clock will tick-tock on time for sleep. Enjoy your meals by adding any of these foods and turn on your sleepy mode!


If you are gluten sensitive and struggling for proper adequate sleep, use rice. Carbohydrate content and tryptophan sleep amino acids in cereals will bring healthier sleep effects. Rice due to its fibers, vitamins B1 and B6, manganese is an excellent nutrient source and is easy to digest. You must go for rice with a handful of salad for taste and freshness.

Rules for Goodnight Sleep:

Follow a few simple rules for consistent, improved, and balanced sleep you must adopt:

  1. Reduce caffeine or alcohol intake. Especially intake after evening time can discomfort you at night. Caffeine boosts the metabolism and energizes you. It can quickly cross the blood-brain zones suppressing the effects of melatonin and serotonin hormones.
  2. Eating late at night can cause gastrointestinal inflammation or bowel discomfort. This could be the possible reason for a restless night and fatigued mornings. Try to have a meal at a regular time every day.
  3. For you to be healthy and active, start burning your calories. An increase in your physical activities brings you closer to your body and mind’s well-being.

Mental well-being is indeed correlated with physically fit body systems. With sleep deprivation and mental illness becoming increasingly common worldwide, it’s essential to improve your health. This can be achieved by reducing the intake of sugary and high-calorie foods. Instead, opt for a diet that includes foods to eat before bed. These foods help nourish your body cells and tissues, ultimately leading to sound, restful nights. Remember, daily exercise is also a key component of this healthy lifestyle.

Raise your sleep hormone levels with green leafy vegetables or fruits along with dairy and poultry sources. If you are experiencing emotional and behavioral shifts you need to speak to your physician. Observe yourself before any medication or self-help remedies.


Sound and deep sleep are what our minds and body need. Unfortunately, many of us are not having adequate sleep hours. Sleep clocks are controlled by our brain and its hormones. The hormones melatonin and serotonin are regulated by various stimuli perceived from darkness and light.

Lower levels of any of these hormones can lead to conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and behavioral shifts. We can boost our hormonal levels by having balanced and healthier foods to eat before bed. These foods include vegetables, fruits, dairy items, meat sources, dates, and nuts. If these are part of your daily meals, then you are on the right track. Here’s to achieving dreamy sleep nights with the right foods!

Scientific Information

  • Melatonin: Hormones that play a role in biological sleep-wake cycles.
  • Insomnia: Sleep disorder causing difficulty in sleeping.
  • Probiotics: Foods that contain microorganisms necessary for the digestive system.
  • Pineal gland:  Gland where melatonin and serotonin are produced in the brain.
Written by:
Ifrah Awais, MS



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