Eight foods that may help you sleep better

October 4th, 2019

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By Rhiannon Lambert, Registered Nutritionist

Did you know that more than a quarter of Britons experience poor quality sleep on a regular basis? In fact, data suggests we are sleeping less each year.

Consequently, more so than ever before it is quality sleep that we all need to aim for. Nutrition can play a vital role in helping you to get more shut eye and these are just a couple of foods that may help you achieve a better night’s sleep.


Yes, it is a myth that cheese gives you nightmares! Cheese is actually a source of tryptophan, which plays a vital role in the production of serotonin and in turn melatonin.2 Serotonin is our ‘happy hormone’, that is involved in our mood regulation and sleep! Some studies have suggested that foods high in tryptophan may help sleep,3 and the cheese with the most tryptophan is mozzarella. It’s also worth noting that carbohydrates have been shown to make tryptophan more available to the brain, so your cheese toastie might actually be beneficial for sleep!


Nuts aren’t just packed full of micronutrients and healthy fats; they are also rich in melatonin. Nuts make a great on the go snack - when choosing, opt for pistachios, almonds and walnuts as they contain more melatonin or peanuts, which are a great source of tryptophan. 


Milk is another source of melatonin and tryptophan. This is because cows are milked at night when their melatonin is naturally higher.4 Drinking milk may help with sleeping better and there is definitely nothing wrong with having a glass of milk and a cookie before bed - in fact there may even be a psychological reason we enjoy it so much!


As soy products are good sources of tryptophan, tofu is a great plant-based option that everyone can incorporate in to their meals. Not only does tofu contain tryptophan, which can help boost your sleep but it’s also rich in protein and can contain calcium, both of which are sleep promoting compounds.  


Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse; the yolks are high in vitamin D and may support towards getting better quality sleep. As well as containing all essential amino acids they include tryptophan, which contributes to the production of serotonin, which helps regulates the body sleep cycle. Eggs are an inexpensive and delicious food, and are quick and easy to incorporate into your diet. 


Beans and legumes are packed full of vitamin Bs, such as B6 and B12 as well as containing folic acid. These properties are great for helping regulate your circadian rhythm and encourage your serotonin levels. Legumes can easily be weaved into your diet and are a particularly good ingredient for those who have a plant-based diet. 


This dairy product is an excellent source of calcium, tryptophan and magnesium, all of which are sleep-friendly. These may help you get to sleep quicker and, even more importantly, stay in the restorative deep sleep stage for longer.


This fish is a wonderful source of omega 3 and a good source of magnesium, Vitamin B6 and tryptophan, which encourages the sleep regulating hormone serotonin. When buying salmon, the wild variety can often be better due to the higher levels of healthy fats and Vitamin D. 

Whilst the emerging research on all foods makes for interesting reading, there is no guarantee they will improve your sleep. If you are really struggling with sleep, please visit your GP for advice.

About Rhiannon Lambert

Rhiannon Lambert is a Registered Nutritionist, founder of Rhitrition, London's leading private nutrition clinic, bestselling author of Re-Nourish: A Simple Way To Eat Well and podcast host of Food For Thought.

Her qualified approach to nutrition and total dedication to sharing evidence-based advice has seen Rhiannon work with some of the world’s most influential people.  

For more information, please visit Rhitrition.com and follow @Rhitrition on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


[1] https://www.sleepcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Great-British-Bedtime-Report.pdf

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31512550

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6158605/

[4] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531712000632