What you can eat to help get a good night sleep

·Features and Health Editor
·3-min read

Before reaching for that post-dinner snack, we’re here to let you know that some foods might be better to grab than others if you're wanting to get a good night's sleep.

You've probably been guilty of being hungry before bed so you decide to reach for a spoonful of Nutella that’s high in sugar that makes it hard to sleep, or for fatty foods that sit in your stomach working hard to digest as you try to settle in for the night.

woman sleeping on one side in bed
Are you eating the right food before bed for a good night's sleep? Photo: Getty

As clinical dietitian and nutritionist Jaime Rose Chambers explains eating the wrong foods before bed can actually make falling and staying asleep difficult.

"Ultimately we should avoid eating too close to bed time but if you’re eating dinner early or you’ve had a light dinner, you may find by bed time, you’re a bit puckish and that going to bed hungry has a negative impact on your sleep," Jaime tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

"Rather than going for something sweet like chocolate which in fact can adversely impact your sleep due to its caffeine content, there are some better snack options that are not only nutritious, but can help to support a good night’s sleep."

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Jaime says there are many chemicals, enzymes, nutrients and hormones that are involved in the sleep process. 

"Ideally they are found in an overall healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle pattern. However there are some foods that contain particularly high levels of these sleep-promoting compounds that can be prioritised in the diet," she adds.

Sleep mask
Some foods will work better than others. Photo: Getty

Here, Jaime shares some of her go-to snacks before bed that could help with better shuteye.

Dairy products

"Particularly a probiotic yoghurt and milk because they contain high levels of an amino acid called tryptophan, which is used to make our sleep hormone melatonin," she says.

When eaten in combination with a carbohydrate such as the natural lactose sugar found in yoghurt and milk, may help you to feel drowsier before heading to bed and improve the quality of your sleep. Probiotic yoghurt also contains healthy bacteria that can support gut health, also believed to be a factor in a good night’s sleep."

Eating yoghurt before bed might be a surprising one given a recent study with YouGov and Vaalia, revealed that only 1 in 5 Australians (21%) believed you should eat yoghurt before bed.

Yogurt in a plastic container and a woman's hand holding a spoon of yogurt
Yoghurt, particularly probiotic yoghurt, can help with digestion. Photo: Getty

Fatty fish

"This includes salmon, trout and tuna, which are a good source of vitamin D and high in omega 3 fatty acids.  

These nutrients are involved in the regulation of serotonin, generally known as our happy hormone, but serotonin also plays a role in a normal sleep cycle.

Kiwi

"One small study showed that people who ate 2 kiwi fruits before bed for 4 weeks had improved sleep. It is not known exactly how or why kiwi helps with sleep but they do contain a number of sleep-promoting compounds like melatonin, antioxidants and some vitamins and minerals.

Kiwi fruit on wooden background with copy space
A study showed Kiwi improved sleep. Photo: Getty
Sweet cherries in the white plate. Closeup
Cherries contain melatonin. Photo: Getty

Cherries

"Cherries, particularly tart cherries contain melatonin as well as the amino acid tryptophan involved in the synthesis of melatonin, as well as potassium and some antioxidants which in combination were found in a scientific review to have a positive impact on sleep."

Nuts

"Particularly nuts like almonds and walnuts naturally contain melatonin and other sleep-supporting minerals which can help create a healthy sleep cycle, along with many other additional health benefits."

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