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28 March 2022 Jenna Amos, RDN
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While you probably understand first hand the importance of a good night's sleep, especially having lost an hour of it last night, research shows an association between a lack of sleep and many negative health concerns: a weakened immune systemimpaired memory, even an increased risk for diabetes and obesity. 

While the exact reason we sleep is still being researched, it is clear that sleep impacts nearly every system in our body. Our diet plays a key role in our body’s ability to sleep. Certain nutrients, like magnesium, potassium, Omega 3's, and tryptophan regulate various processes involved with sleep.

Incorporate some foods below that provide these key sleep nutrients into your diet and rest easy:   

  • Nuts: A handful of nuts provides omega 3’s, magnesium and tryptophan. To get the most from these nutrient powerhouses (and prevent boredom), consume a variety that includes walnuts, peanuts and almonds. No added sugar nut butter checks the box too!
  • Whole Grains: Foods like oats, whole grain bread and crackers contain magnesium and some tryptophan to support melatonin production.  Research has shown that whole grains in particular help shuttle tryptophan to the brain, making it more useful. Plus the fiber in whole grains helps keep you fuller longer so prevents you from needing that sleep disrupting midnight snack.  
  • Tart Cherries: Tart cherries and tart cherry juice provide a one-two punch of tryptophan and melatoninResearch shows an improvement in both sleep duration and quality after consuming tart cherry juice, likely due to its melatonin content. An added bonus for recovery? Tart cherry juice also improves muscle soreness
  • Dairy: Low fat milk, dairy, and cheese contain the amino acid (a protein building block), tryptophan and the mineral potassium. Choose yogurts low in added sugar to prevent sleep inhibiting cortisol spikes and keep the full fat (whole milk) dairy for earlier in the day. High fat foods take longer to digest and prevent high quality sleep.  

Looking for a bedtime snack? Early research has shown a protein + carb combo is ideal, because it provides a good mix of sleep supporting nutrients. Plus, the protein helps slow down the absorption of carbs, preventing a blood sugar slump that could cause our bodies to wake in the middle of the night. 


Thanks to our Contributing Dietitian, Jenna Amos, RDN, for this post. 

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