Sleep Nutrition: Foods that Can Help or Harm Your ZZZs

Getting sufficient, high-quality shuteye proves integral to daily health and functioning. However, many overlook how our dietary choices directly impact slumber cycles according to the sleep specialists at Snoring and Sleep Solutions of Nevada. Certain nutrients cue our bodies for rest while others stir wakefulness, so careful menu planning supports sounder sleep.

Helpful Heavy-Hitters

Stocking a restful refrigerator involves:

Helpful Heavy-Hitters

Stocking a restful refrigerator involves focusing on foods rich in nutrients that actively promote relaxation and sleepiness. Our body relies on certain amino acids, vitamins, and compounds found abundantly in specific whole foods to regulate its natural circadian rhythms. Some top sleep-supporting choices our specialists at Snoring and Sleep Solutions of Nevada recommend include:

Tryptophan-Rich Proteins:

Turkey, salmon, chicken, nuts, and seeds contain this essential amino acid precursor to serotonin and melatonin. Studies show tryptophan supplementation before bed reduces the time to fall asleep. Opt for tryptophan-packed sources approximately 3 hours before bedtime to allow sufficient absorption and brain synthesis of sleep-inducing neurohormones.

Magnesium-Loaded Vegetables:

Leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, cruciferous vegetables, avocados, and legumes pack a nutrient possessing over 300 biochemical functions. Research links adequate magnesium intake to fewer awakenings, less daytime sleepiness, and improved overall sleep quality and efficiency. Dietary deficiency is associated with an increased risk of insomnia and periodic limb movement disorder.

Valerian Root: 

This herb’s reputation as a sleep remedy stretches back to ancient Greece and Rome. It contains volatile oils like valerenic acid, acetophenone derivatives, and alkaloids that interact synergistically to promote relaxation. Clinical trials demonstrate valerian root’s efficacy for improving the time to fall asleep, increasing sleep duration, and reducing middle-of-the-night waking compared to placebo. Our specialists can advise on proper dosage.

Warm Milk:

Milk and dairy products supply calcium, a mineral signaling our bodies to produce sleep-inducing prolactin hormone after ingestion. Additionally, milk protein’s tryptophan and tyrosine converted into melatonin and neurotransmitters calms overactive minds. A cozy cup shortly before bed eases the transition to slumber.


Tart Montmorency cherries display one of the highest antioxidant concentrations found in fruits, rich in relief-promoting anthocyanins. Studies link cherry consumption to less time awake during the night, fewer sleep interruptions, and higher melatonin levels upon rising. Keep frozen or dried cherries handy for a natural sleep booster.

A young woman in the background reaching for some fruits before sleep
Healthy vs unhealthy food for the perfect sleep routine

Alertness Invokers 

Avoiding these before bed aids drifting off:

Alertness Invokers

While essential for energy and focus during daytime hours, certain foods are best avoided in the evenings as they can disrupt sleep onset and quality according to sleep specialists. Limiting the following close to bedtime helps sink into a more restorative slumber:


Found in coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks, caffeine is a methylxanthine blocking adenosine receptors. This natural somnolence-promoting neurotransmitter builds throughout the day to induce a nighttime sleep drive. However, caffeine lingers in our systems for up to 8 hours, suppressing REM and stage 3 NREM sleep crucial for restorative functions even consumed 6 hours pre-bed.

Spicy Foods:

Chilies, peppers, curries, and other pungent dishes trigger a thermoregulatory and gastric response raising core body heat and stimulating acid secretion. These biomechanical byproducts flair symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux and digestional unease which disturb rest when lying horizontally.

Heavy, Fatty or Processed Meals:

Large, rich dinners impose a substantial metabolic cost demanding greater caloric expenditure long after consumption. Digesting and absorbing these macro- and micronutrient-dense macros triggers hormonal cascades signaling wakefulness instead of rest. Opt for light snacks higher in sleep-supportive nutrients like carbohydrates and protein if hunger strikes in the evening hours. 

Alcohol & Tobacco:

Despite perceived sedative effects, alcohol disrupts REM and stage 3-4 NREM sleep patterns through diuretic and hormonal mechanisms. Morning sleepiness and daytime dysfunction often result from a night of drinking and smoking, and withdrawal further fragments architecture as levels decline in the bloodstream.

Electronic Screens:

Backlit tablets, computers, and phones emit short-wavelength blue light suppressing nighttime melatonin production and making the brain feel alert when trying to unwind. Limit screen exposure for at least 1-2 hours before bedtime to avoid physiological and psychological overstimulation interfering with timely shut-eye.

By emphasizing beneficial nutrients and limiting disruptive dietary choices according to their biological clocks and tastes, Snoring and Sleep Solutions of Nevada clients gain control of this vital lifestyle factor improving nightly restoration. Contact our specialists to devise a sleep-supportive nutrition plan tailored to individual needs and preferences.

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