What foods help you fall asleep and what you shouldn't eat at night: an expert's answer

Yulia LoseynkoLife
Doctors investigated the effect of diet on sleep quality.

Good nutrition and good sleep, along with physical activity, are the three pillars of a healthy and long life. But the problem is that some foods may be incompatible with a good night's rest. And vice versa, certain foods can make it easier to fall asleep and improve the quality of your night's sleep. Therefore, it is important to know what to eat in the evening in order to sleep well later.

Doctor and health expert Uliana Werner told OBOZREVATEL about this in a commentary. She advised what to eat and what to avoid before bed.

According to the expert, the food and drinks we consume during the day affect not only the quality of sleep but also our behaviour during nighttime rest. In particular, a deficiency of vitamins and minerals needed daily can cause problems with falling asleep and waking up.

What foods to avoid before bedtime


Sugar. Studies show that people who consume a lot of sugar spend less time in REM sleep. This phase is essential for physical recovery, as well as for maintaining a healthy metabolism and immune system. Also, sweets for dinner can cause restless sleep with frequent awakenings during the night.

Meat. In addition to the fact that regular consumption of large amounts of meat can cause problems with falling asleep, this product can also provoke snoring.

Alcohol. Although alcohol can act as a sedative, speeding up falling asleep and increasing the duration of deep sleep at the beginning of the night, things change dramatically later on. As the effects of alcohol begin to wear off, the body spends more time in light sleep, which is not as deep. This can also lead to more nighttime awakenings. As a result, a person who has had a nightcap, for example, to get a good night's sleep, actually spends fewer hours sleeping.

Spicy food. Eating spicy foods for dinner can make it difficult to fall asleep and prevent deep sleep. This is because of digestive disturbances caused by burning foods. Another reason is that spicy foods can increase body temperature, while sleep requires a certain decrease in temperature, and the quality of rest will suffer.

Fatty foods. Saturated fats and trans fats are also harmful to the body because they can cause insomnia and reduce overall rest time. Saturated fats are found in animal products, such as butter, cheese and meat, as well as in palm and coconut oil. Trans fats are often found in margarine, fried foods, store-bought pastries and biscuits.

How to avoid problems falling asleep

Even if you are planning to have some of these foods for dinner, their impact on your sleep can be reduced by following two rules.

  • Eat dinner about 3 hours before bedtime to allow your body to focus on preparing for rest, as our digestive system slows down when we sleep.
  • If you suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders, eat small amounts of foods that are useful for quality rest.

What foods will improve sleep


Kiwi. These fruits are rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, vitamin E and folic acid. Eating kiwi helps the brain synthesise serotonin, which is an important substance for many processes. In particular, it is involved in the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep time. The benefits of kiwi for sleep may also be due to its high concentration of antioxidants.

Cherry. The berry is high in melatonin, which promotes quality sleep. Consuming cherries can help people sleep longer, fall asleep faster, and wake up less often at night.

Milk. In addition to being an important source of calcium, which helps strengthen bones and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, it is also rich in tryptophan and vitamin D, both of which are linked to better sleep. An amino acid found in dairy products is called a-lactalbumin. It helps tryptophan reach the brain, where it can be synthesised into serotonin and melatonin. Studies show that people who eat a nutritious diet that includes milk and other dairy products may have better sleep quality.

Fatty fish. Fatty fish contain protein and a lot of nutrients, such as iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and choline. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which can improve sleep through their effect on serotonin regulation. Salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, and sardines are good choices if you need to get some sleep.

Nuts. They are a rich source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Many types of nuts, as well as seeds, contain melatonin and other nutrients that are commonly associated with improved sleep. These include omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and tryptophan, which can be found in nuts.

Why is quality sleep so important?

Healthy and regular sleep has a positive effect on memory, thinking, mood and overall well-being. People who don't get enough sleep may experience daytime sleepiness or irritability.

Studies have also linked lack of sleep to the risk of overeating. The fewer hours of sleep you get at night, the more you will eat during the day. Sleep deprivation also affects the tendency to choose high-calorie foods, which increases the risk of weight gain.

The normal production of leptin and ghrelin, hormones that help control appetite and hunger, stops even after short periods of sleep deprivation.

If you want to improve the quality of your rest and nutrition, consult a doctor. A specialist can identify potential sleep disorders and recommend an eating plan that best suits your needs.

Previously OBOZREVATEL told about 6 strange and paradoxical ways to make yourself sleep.

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