Five quick diet tips to improve sleep quality

How did you sleep last night? I hope you effortlessly drifted off into dreamland and clocked your perfect eight hours. If that wasn’t the case though, you are certainly not alone.

We are a nation of poor sleepers with nearly half of all Brit’s getting less than six hours a night. That's bad news as sleep quality impacts every part of our lives, from our performance at work and interactions with loved ones to long term health and mental wellbeing. I have sacrificed many nights of slumber to work, stress, over-indulgences and of course my two resident sleep thieves, so I know how frustrating these nights can be and how crucial sleep is to our overall well-being. Today I want to show you how making a few nutritional adjustments can effectively combat sleep and insomnia. Trust me, it’s worth adding these ‘sleep superfoods’ to your daily diet. Once you start clocking more restorative z’s you will be amazed at how fabulous you feel.

Tryptophan-rich foods

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which our body uses to produce serotonin and melatonin which together help regulate your natural sleep patterns. You can think of melatonin as your ‘sleep hormone’ and serotonin as your “happiness hormone”, responsible for mental well-being and enthusiasm! Eating tryptophan-rich foods daily will help to ensure that you are producing enough of both hormones and will ultimately help you to get a good nights sleep. Foods high in tryptophan include spirulina, spinach, watercress, mushrooms, asparagus, salmon, cod, tuna, turkey, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashew, almonds, walnuts and legumes.

Tart cherry juice

Tart cherry juice is a natural source of melatonin so drinking a shot each evening boosts melatonin levels in the body, just when you need it most. This promotes both good sleep quality and quantity. And it also tastes delicious! Other foods rich in melatonin are orange bell peppers, flax seeds, tomatoes, fenugreek, mustard seeds, almonds, raspberries and goji berries.

Magnesium-containing foods

Magnesium is an essential mineral which plays a double role with sleep. When we don't get enough magnesium (which many of us don’t), our brains don’t rest properly at night causing sleep disturbance. Magnesium is also responsible for relaxing our muscles so if you feel tense or your limbs are restless in bed, that's a strong sign that you could be deficient. You can get more magnesium through your daily diet by eating: swiss chard, spinach, wheat and rice bran, kelp, kale and prickly pears.


I feel perkier just thinking about a cup of coffee. For many of us, that morning cup is a treasured ritual, but drinking too much can have disastrous effects on our sleep patterns. Most people don't realise that a cup of coffee can have an effect on your body between eight and 14 hours! If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try decaf, herbal tea or keep it to one cup very early in the morning.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile has been traditionally consumed for its calming and sleep-inducing properties for centuries. The flavonoid “apigenin” in chamomile is responsible for its tranquillizing effect as it binds to receptors in the brain and relaxes the central nervous system. Chamomile can also reduce the levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream, which at high levels, are well known to have a negative impact on resting at night, causing delaying on sleeping onset and waking up in the middle of the night.

I really hope this article has given you some insight into how you can help yourself to get a better nights sleep with the foods you eat. Have you found that any particular eating habits or foods help you to sleep better or worse? I would love to hear your thoughts.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bristol, Avon, BS16 2JP
Written by Rosie Letts, BSc Hons, MBANT, CNHC| Online Nutritionist
Bristol, Avon, BS16 2JP

Rosie Letts BSc Hons, mBANT, CNHC.

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