7 Foods that Promote Sleep

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Or do you wake up often during the night? You are not alone: Between 30 and 48% suffer from insomnia.(1) Tossing and turning in bed is not only frustrating, but sleep loss can also lead to increased stress and thereby to health problems. Adequate sleep, a balanced diet and regular exercise are very important for a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise can also help you fall asleep if you suffer from chronic insomnia.(2)

Before turning to pills to help you sleep, you should give these seven foods that promote sleep a chance. When eaten in the evening, they can help you fall asleep easier and ensure a night of deep, restful slumber.

1. Bananas

Bananas are one of the most important foods for runners. Did you know they can help you sleep well if you consume them regularly? The high potassium content can also help with calf cramps during the night. Plus, the fruit is packed with magnesium which is important for muscle relaxation and thus deeper sleep.(3) Try drinking a glass of homemade banana milk before bedtime. The milk contains casein, a slow-release protein, which is also known as the “night-time protein” because it provides your body with protein for hours and prevents muscle loss while you sleep.(4)

2. Herbal tea

You have probably heard that herbal tea is supposed to help you sleep. But what kinds are best for making you sleepy? Chamomile tea has long been used to treat sleeping disorders. Researchers believe that its soothing effect is probably due to the flavonoid apigenin, a secondary metabolite.(5) Lavender, valerian, and mint teas are also known to relax the body.


Stay away from black tea or green tea right before bed because they are stimulants and will keep you awake.

3. Pumpkin seeds

Roasted pumpkin seeds are the perfect snack. You can improve the quality of your sleep by simply munching on a few pumpkin seeds while you watch TV in the evening. 50 g of pumpkin seeds contain about 200 mg of magnesium, which is almost enough to satisfy your entire daily requirement. Magnesium helps your muscles relax an important factor for getting some quality shuteye.

4. Salmon

How about having some grilled salmon with broccoli and quinoa for dinner? Studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish can reduce stress and thus help you relax and sleep well.(6)

5. Cherries

It may come as a surprise, but cherries are one of the foods that promote sleep. Drinking 1 glass (250ml/ 16oz) of cherry juice before bed can increase the melatonin levels in your blood. This then improves the quality of your sleep.(7) The hormone melatonin regulates your sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm).

Fresh cherries can also have this effect. If the seasonal fruit is not available, then just snack on some dried cherries between meals.

6. (Sweet) Potatoes

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are not only valuable sources of complex carbohydrates, but they are also rich in potassium. This mineral can help you relax in the evening, thus improving the quality of your sleep. 

Recipe Tip:

There’s nothing better than homemade sweet potato fries: Wash and dry the potatoes thoroughly. Then cut them into wedges, toss them in olive oil and spices (e.g., garlic and paprika) and bake them in the oven for at least 30 minutes.

7. Cocoa

A cup of cocoa before bed can work wonders, especially on cold fall and winter days. It not only warms you from the inside, but it also makes you sleepy. Why? Because of the tryptophan found in unsweetened cocoa powder. You can heighten the effect of the cocoa by adding a little almond milk, which also contains tryptophan. This essential amino acid helps stabilize the body’s serotonin levels. A shortage of serotonin, on the other hand, can lead to sleep disorders.(8)

Did you know that cocoa can help you with recovery? Chocolate milk is the perfect post-workout drink! 


A healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet are both important if you want to sleep well. Include foods that promote sleep in your meals regularly to help fight insomnia. 


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