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Foods That Can Help You Sleep

by Mike McLaughlin

About Mike McLaughlin

Mike McLaughlin has been writing news, entertainment and sports articles since 1990. McLaughlin has written for “The Maine Campus,” “The Bangor Daily News" and various websites. McLaughlin is also a martial arts instructor and certified personal trainer. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and an associate degree in filmmaking.



Two-thirds of American adults say they are not getting enough sleep each night, according to U.S. News and World Report. There a several sleeping pills on the market that can help with this problem, but if you don't like taking pills, there are several foods that can help you sleep. Bananas, oatmeal, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds are some of those foods.


Bananas are believed to help combat anemia, constipation and high blood pressure, but the fruit also helps people get some sleep. Bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan, which converts to the brain chemical serotonin -- and that helps people relax and go to sleep. Bananas are also digested slowly in the body so that serotonin is released later in the sleep cycle, meaning they help facilitate a longer, deeper sleep.

Oatmeal and Low-Fat Milk

A bowl of oatmeal mixed with low-fat milk is a combination that helps induce sleep. The carbohydrates in oatmeal stimulate the release of insulin in the body, which helps clear amino acids out of the bloodstream that compete with the tryptophan in the milk. Warm the milk to boost its sleep-providing benefits. It is important to use low-fat milk because foods that are high in fat are more difficult for the body to digest. Stomach rumblings may make sleep more difficult.


The sleep-inducing effects of turkey are obvious after many Thanksgiving dinners. However, turkey is not the only poultry that contains tryptophan. Goose, duck and chicken all contain high levels of tryptophan. A light meal that includes any of these types of poultry can help you get a better night’s sleep. Adding some vegetables to the meal will also give you some helpful carbohydrates.


Eggs are typically considered a breakfast food, but they can also be eaten for dinner to help with sleep. Eggs are high in tryptophan and help promote the production of serotonin. Scrambled eggs with cheese are a good idea for a sleep-inducing meal. The calcium in the cheese also helps you relax and go to sleep.

Nuts and Seeds

A handful of nuts or seeds are a great bedtime snack to help sleep. Hazelnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are especially good for this purpose, and they contain a high amount of tryptophan. Nuts and seeds are also an easy food to keep on the nightstand.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.