The trick to a better night’s sleep could be hiding in your kitchen

by Kaiser Permanente Kaiser Permanente |
Person snuggling into bed

Getting enough sleep is vital to a healthy lifestyle. It can keep your immune system strong, improve your mood, and help you feel less stressed. Yet 1 in 3 adults don’t get the recommended amount of sleep.1 And in uncertain times, it can be even more difficult to sleep well.

If you’re struggling to sleep through the night, one good first step is evaluating your diet. Certain foods can help you sleep better — and you may already have some of them in your kitchen. So, what can you eat during the day to set yourself up for a good night’s rest?

3 foods to help with sleep

These foods can help with sleep — and you should be able to find them at your local stores or farmers markets.


Not only are many nuts high in heart-healthy fat, but some also contain the hormone melatonin,which helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

Nuts that contain high amounts of naturally occurring melatonin include pistachios, walnuts, and almonds. So, reach for a handful of nuts for an afternoon snack. Or consider adding pistachios to a hearty kale and butternut squash salad.


Another good-for-you option that can help you sleep well? Fruit. Bananas, kiwis, and fresh, frozen, or dried tart cherries are high on the list of melatonin-containing fruits.2

But if you’d rather reach for fruit with less sugar, avocados are a good choice. In addition to being packed with vitamins and potassium, avocados also contain magnesium — a mineral that aids in many of your body’s essential functions, like muscle relaxation and energy production. And some research shows a connection between magnesium intake and decreased anxiety and depression,3 which can affect how well you do — or don’t — sleep. As a plus, avocados can make a simple snack, from the ever-popular avocado toast to a healthy take on a chocolate pie.


For many people, sipping a cup of tea is a soothing way to end the day. And certain teas can help promote good sleep. Chamomile, for example, is an herb often used in tea that is known to help with sleep. One study found that chamomile can significantly improve sleep quality in older people, in particular.4 And you can easily find many chamomile tea options in your local grocery store. Just remember: Whether you go for chamomile, peppermint, or antioxidant-rich green tea, choose one without caffeine.

Of course, plenty of other foods contain melatonin and magnesium. To find others — and learn more about the nutritional breakdowns of your favorite foods — you can  search the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s online database.

Tip:It’s a good idea to avoid eating any food, especially heavy meals, too close to bedtime. And in general, avoid caffeine at least 4 to 6 hours before you go to bed.

Considering a supplement? Talk to your doctor first.

If you’re thinking about trying a supplement to up your melatonin or magnesium intake, be sure to talk with your doctor first. Many supplements can interfere with medications you may currently be taking. 

More resources for better sleep

Need more help improving your sleep? We have you covered. From bedtime meditations to more tips for catching better z’s, check out our online Sleeping better resource center.

1 "Sleep and Sleep Disorders," CDC, February 22, 2018.

2 Xiao Meng et al.,   "Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin," Nutrients, April 2017.

3 Anna E. Kirkland et al., "The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders," Nutrients, June 2018.

4 M. Adib-Hajbaghery & SN Mousavi,  "The Effects of Chamomile Extract on Sleep Quality Among Elderly People: A Clinical Trial," Complementary Therapies in Medicine, December 2017.