Whether it’s a jolt after a cup of coffee or drowsiness after Thanksgiving dinner, most people have personally experienced how food and drinks can affect their energy and alertness. With as many as 35% of American adults suffering from symptoms of insomnia,
it’s understandable that there’s a strong desire to take advantage of food and drinks for better sleep. Both diet and sleep are complex, which means there’s no silver bullet or single food that is guaranteed to help with sleep. So,
there are some foods that may make it easier to get a great night’s sleep. Kiwi. The kiwi or kiwifruit is a small, oval-shaped fruit popularly associated with New Zealand but it is grown in numerous countries.
There are two green and gold varieties, but green kiwis are produced and loved in greater numbers. Kiwi is rich with minerals, most notably vitamins C and E as well as potassium and very important folate.
Some research has found that eating kiwi can improve sleep. In a study, people who ate two kiwis one hour before bedtime found that they fell asleep faster, slept more, and had better sleep quality.
It is not known for sure why kiwis may help with sleep, but researchers believe that it could relate to their antioxidant properties, ability to address folate deficiencies, and/or high concentration of serotonin.
Nuts. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews are often considered to be a good food for sleep. Though the exact amounts can vary, nuts contain melatonin as well as essential minerals like magnesium,
zinc that are essential to a range of bodily processes. In a clinical trial using supplements, it was found that a combination of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc helped older adults with insomnia get better sleep.
Rice. Studies of carbohydrate intake and sleep have had mixed results overall, but some evidence connects rice consumption with improved sleep. A study of adults in Japan found that those who regularly ate rice reported better sleep than those who ate more bread or noodles.
This study only identified an association and cannot demonstrate causality, but it supports prior research that showed that eating foods with a high glycemic index around four hours before bedtime helped with falling asleep.
At the same time, sugary beverages and sweets have been tied to worse sleep15, so it appears that not all carbohydrates and high glycemic index foods are created equal. Additional research is necessary to fully identify the sleep-related effects of different carbohydrates.
The impact of carbohydrates on sleep may be influenced by what is consumed with them. For example, a combination of a moderate amount protein that has tryptophan, a sleep-promoting amino acid, and carbohydrates may make it easier for the tryptophan to reach the body.