Food for Sleep

If you want help falling asleep, here are three foods that might help.

A common strategy for staying awake is consuming caffeinated beverages, but what do you eat or drink when you want to fall asleep? Here are three popular products associated with sleepiness:


Tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey and other foods,1 is why people often link turkey with post-Thanksgiving dinner naps and drowsiness. Tryptophan is associated with sleepiness because it plays a part in the body's production of serotonin and melatonin.2 Serotonin, one of the "feel-good" chemicals, helps boost your mood and sleep quality.3 It also helps produce melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep by influencing your circadian rhythm.4

That being said, the large portions of food (and possibly alcohol) at Thanksgiving are more likely the leading cause of post-holiday meal sleepiness than the turkey itself.5

Tea (Chamomile)

Chamomile tea is another popular choice for those looking to get sleepy. Since tea generally promotes relaxation, the simple act of drinking non-caffeinated tea is an easy way to calm your body and prepare for sleep.

Chamomile tea, in particular, is thought to have sleep-inducing effects because it contains the flavonoid apigenin.6 Apigenin has been found to have slight sedative effects. Though some studies are promising, more research is needed to confirm how much of an impact chamomile has on sleep.78 Either way, it doesn't hurt to grab a cup of chamomile tea before heading to bed.  

Tree Nuts

Nuts, such as walnuts, almonds and pistachios, are also listed as good sleep snacks because they contain the sleep hormone melatonin.910 If you want nuts with higher melatonin, buy unroasted since the roasting process decreases melatonin levels (with the exception of peanuts). In addition to melatonin, nuts also contain beneficial nutrients like magnesium and zinc, which may help promote sleep.1112

Will a handful of nuts send you straight to dreamland? Maybe not, but if you are not allergic, a handful of nuts makes a nutritious late-night treat.

If you’re unsure whether poor sleep is the problem, try imaware’s Men’s and Women’s Health & Wellness tests for easy, at-home health checkups.


  1. Mount Sinai. Tryptophan. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  2. International journal of Tryptophan Research. Analysis, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Tryptophan. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Serotonin. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  4. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Melatonin: What You Need To Know. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  5. Cleveland Clinic. Health Essentials: Tired After Eating? Here’s Why. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  6. Molecular Medicine Reports. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  7. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: A randomized controlled trial. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  8. Journal of Education and Health Promotion. Investigation effect of oral chamomilla on sleep quality in elderly people in Isfahan: A randomized control trial. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  9. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. Bioactive phytochemicals of tree nuts. Determination of the melatonin and sphingolipid content in almonds and pistachios. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  10. Nutrients. Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin. Accessed November 9, 2022.
  11. Cleveland Clinic. Health Essentials: Does Magnesium Help Your Sleep? Accessed November 9, 2022.
  12. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Dietary Zinc Acts as a Sleep Modulator. Accessed November 9, 2022.