Nutrition and Sleep Part 2: How to Eat for Better Sleep

Sleep & Nutrition Part 2This is the second part of our blog series on Nutrition and Sleep. In our last post, we talked about how a lack of sleep can impact our appetite, energy and cravings. In this post we will review some tips for eating well for sleep.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, good nutrition might just be what you need! Setting yourself up with a balanced eating routine may help your body recognize sleeping periods versus awake periods. Check our previous blog post for more information on metabolism, hormones and sleep.  Here are 5 great eating tips for better sleep.

1. Don't skip meals

Skipping meals may seem like an easy way to save time, but doing so can throw off your body's normal sleep pattern. Large, late dinners can stimulate alertness and make it challenging for our bodies to rest. If you’ve accidently skipped a breakfast or lunch meal, aim to have your next meal a little earlier or have a snack. This well help regulate metabolism and keep your body on cue with regular eating patterns.  Remember, it’s OK to have a snack before bed, or to enjoy later dinner meals, but if you’ve been having trouble sleeping, it may be worthwhile to try earlier meal and snack times.

2. Eat breakfast, and eat throughout the day

Including regular meals and snacks throughout your day helps our bodies and brain maintain the right balance of hormones and neurotransmitters. These are essential for both falling and staying asleep at night. Aim for a meal or snack every 3-5 hours to keep your body well fueled and maintain energy levels during the day.

Our bodies use energy when we sleep and experience a fasted state, which is why breakfast is so important. We need food in the morning to restore energy levels and fuel the day ahead. If you’re on the run, grab a snack on the way out the door such as a piece of fruit with a hardboiled egg, or wholegrain toast with peanut butter.  Aim for something with protein and fibre, which will help keep you going until you can sit down for a more sustainable meal.

3. Ditch the extreme diet

Extreme diets are often very restrictive and can lead to low nutrient and calorie intakes. When our body is lacking nutrients or we try to go to sleep hungry, restlessness can set in. Low iron, for example can cause symptoms similar to restless leg syndrome, and a deficiency in folic acid can exacerbate insomnia. Zinc, Calcium and B vitamins are also key players in regulating sleep.

Instead of taking the extreme route and cutting out foods, food groups or calories, try adding more nutrient dense choices to your daily food routine. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are all chock full of micronutrients and fibre to support sleep and health!

4. Don't overdo processed foods or coffee

Caffeine can take 6-8 hours to fully metabolize, and affects our blood pressure and heart rate.  Processed foods, such as pre-packaged frozen meals, pastries or salty snacks, contain lot of sugar and sodium, which can interrupt sleep by creating blood sugar and blood pressure spikes. If you enjoy a cup of coffee or a treat during the day, and include them in moderation, and aim to have these foods earlier on in the day when our bodies have more time to metabolize and process them.

5. Go herbal

Before bed, having a cup of calming herbal tea can help set the mood for a good night’s rest. Chamomile and peppermint tea are popular varieties for an evening nightcap. The warmth and aroma of an herbal tea can be calming and help relax our bodies and our mind before bed.

Sleep is so important for our health and wellbeing, and it’s all too often that people struggle to get a good night’s rest. While nutrition can positively impact our sleep habits, sometimes eating well just isn’t enough. If you’ve been having trouble getting a restful night’s sleep, and haven’t had any success with home remedies, it may be a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor.


  • Why Dietitians Care about your Sleep,
  • The Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain — Research Shows Poor Sleep Quality Raises Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk, Nancy L. Kondracki, MS, RD, LDN
  • Sleep Well: What to Eat for Better Sleep, Ana Mantica
  • The Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain — Research Shows Poor Sleep Quality Raises Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk, Nancy L. Kondracki, MS, RD, LDN