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Best And Worst Foods For Good Sleep

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On the JJ Barnes Blog, in my ongoing quest for more rest at night, I check out top tips from experts at Bed Kingdom on the best and worst foods for good sleep.

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Sleep Struggles

Ever toss and turn all night, counting sheep until dawn breaks? Or wake up feeling like a zombie, groggy and yearning for just five more minutes? If you’re nodding your head in agreement, you’re not alone. Not only am I someone who has faced sleep struggles for most of my adult life, according to Mental Health UK, 1 in 5 adults are facing the same problems.

Sleep is a precious commodity, and according to sleep experts at Bed Kingdom, what we eat plays a crucial role in its quality and quantity. While eating too soon before bed can damage your sleeping pattern, there are some foods and light snacks that can help you get a better night’s rest.

While navigating the world of food can feel overwhelming, in this blog post, I’ll be sharing the best and worst foods for good sleep.

Best Foods For Good Sleep

Peanut Butter

Consuming peanut butter as part of a late night, healthy snack can enhance your quality of sleep, as well as stabilise your blood sugar levels and support muscle growth.

Full of key nutrients like heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and more, peanut butter also contains sleep-inducing chemical tryptophan to help your body relax into sleep mode, although be aware that the amount of tryptophan in peanut butter is relatively small, so don’t expect a spoonful to send you instantly into slumber.

Peanut butter also boasts a good amount of protein, around 8 grams per 2 tablespoons. Protein helps us feel satiated and can stabilize blood sugar levels,

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews also promote a healthy sleep schedule thanks to their mixture of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc. 

String Cheese

Do you wake up at night craving some unhealthy sweet or savoury treats? Snacking on a piece of string cheese may be the answer to your sleep disruption.

Packed with fats and proteins to satisfy your hunger and cravings through the night, string cheese is slowly digested by your body for a peaceful night’s rest. Each string has around 8 grams per serving. Protein promotes satiety and stable blood sugar levels, both crucial for undisturbed sleep.It also gives your body a dose of tryptophan to help you fall asleep quicker. String cheese is also a good source of calcium, a mineral important for muscle relaxation and potentially influencing sleep quality.

Pre-portioned and portable, string cheese makes a handy bedtime snack, satisfying cravings without overindulging.

Dark chocolate

Despite chocolate being a poor choice as a late-night snack, experts have revealed that dark chocolate may be exactly what you need to relax for a good night of sleep.

Eating dark chocolate in moderation at least an hour before bed can result in a more productive night’s sleep. The properties found within dark chocolate are known to promote the production of serotonin, a chemical which is directly linked to calmness and relaxation.

Consuming this snack can also reduce stress levels before bed, thanks to the inclusion of antioxidants and flavanols. Pairing dark chocolate with other sleep-enhancing foods like bananas and almonds is another way to secure that extra relaxing boost.  


You may not have to sacrifice your movie night treats in order to get a better night’s sleep, experts have revealed. Rich in fibre and carbs, popcorn supports the production of the feel-good chemical serotonin, one of the most important components of a great sleep.

Like many of the sleep-promoting foods, popcorn makes tryptophan, which unlocks melatonin and serotonin to regulate your sleep schedule. Popcorn is a whole grain, offering complex carbohydrates that break down slowly, promoting sustained energy and potentially preventing blood sugar crashes that can disrupt sleep.

Compared to heavier snacks, popcorn provides a satisfying crunch without overloading your stomach, potentially preventing digestive discomfort that can disrupt sleep, so next time you’re unwinding to a TV show or movie, add a healthy dose of popcorn to prepare your body for bed.  

Best Foods For Good Sleep

While many foods and food groups deliver the exact nutrients you require for a healthy night’s rest, the experts at Bed Kingdom have also shed light on the foods to AVOID for better sleep.


Despite having numerous health benefits, tomatoes could be the cause of your bad night’s sleep. If eaten throughout the day for breakfast, lunch or dinner, tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and potassium, but if consumed too close to bedtime they can cause havoc on your sleeping schedule. Due to their high acidity, tomatoes can trigger indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux, wrecking your sleep and keeping you awake for hours.  


It may be easy to quickly grab a packet of crisps for a late-night snack, but their salt volume could be dehydrating your body. Foods high in salt like crisps and salted nuts are some of the worst things to eat for a good night’s sleep. It is recommended to avoid salty foods for at least two to three hours before bed to ensure you don’t experience disrupted sleep.  

Convenience Food

An ultimate convenience food for many people across the UK, instant noodles might just be the reason you aren’t getting a healthy night’s rest. Like all ultra-processed food, instant noodles are linked to poorer sleep quality, more sleep disturbances, shorter sleep duration, and increased time taken to fall asleep. While instant noodles can provide iron, B vitamins and manganese, they lack key nutrients, and when consumed more often, can have a damaging effect on your sleep schedule.  


Despite containing tryptophan, an essential amino acid which promotes a healthier sleep schedule, chicken may not the best choice too close to your bedtime. In fact, experts say that high-protein foods like chicken and meat may be keeping you awake at night, as our bodies use more energy and take longer to break them down. Also high in protein, salami and pepperoni could be keeping your brain stimulated when you want to wind down, due to tyramine, which triggers the release of norepinephrine. 


As tempting as a slice of toast can be to unwind in the evening, experts have revealed this may be keeping your body more alert and hindering your sleep. Rife with refined carbohydrates, white bread is known as a high glycemic index food, meaning your blood sugar levels spike right after consuming it. As well as giving you a rush of energy, it also disrupts your sleep pattern as your blood sugar crashes during the night. If you don’t want to get rid of your evening toast altogether, wheat bread is an excellent substitution due to its high levels of fibre and complex carbohydrates.  


Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for sleep. What works wonders for one person might leave another wide awake. The key lies in understanding your individual needs and preferences, and making informed choices that support your overall health and well-being.

So, experiment, explore, and listen to your body. Discover the delicious foods that help you drift off peacefully, and create a sleep sanctuary that nourishes both your body and your mind. Sweet dreams, and happy eating!

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