Are you looking to improve your sleep quality? Getting good sleep is a key factor in reaching your goals. Not only does getting adequate sleep length and quality improve focus, concentration, mood and energy levels, it also allows for optimised physical recovery due to the release of growth hormone. This is vital for muscle repair and growth.

Sleep also plays a role in weight management as the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin are influenced by sleep. A release of ghrelin due to poor sleep can increase appetite and cravings for high calorie foods, making it harder to stick to goals. There are a number of variabilities that may negatively influence our sleep habits. Certain foods and nutrients play a role in how we sleep by influencing the bodies production of sleep regulating hormones such as melatonin and serotonin.

Read on for a guide to better sleep, focusing on what to include and avoid in your diet.



Foods to include to improve sleep quality


Tryptophan-Rich Foods


Tryptophan is an amino acid which the body uses to produce serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter that is then converted to the sleep hormone melatonin. Studies have shown that >1g can improve sleep quality. Examples of food rich in tryptophan include turkey, chicken, eggs, daily (milk, cheese, yoghurt), nuts and seeds.




Whole grain carbohydrates have been shown to facilitate the entry of tryptophan to the brain, boosting melatonin production which may in turn also have positive affects on sleep.

Including foods such as:

  • oats,
  • whole wheat bread,
  • brown rice and
  • starchy vegetables will help to achieve this.




Magnesium intake through food or supplementation is associated with enhanced sleep quality. It is an essential mineral which acts as a natural relaxant, making it easier to fall and stay asleep. Magnesium interacts with neurotransmitters that are involved in sleep. When stimulated, calm nervous anxiety which leads to a faster sleep time.

Magnesium has also been shown to reduce muscle cramps and discomfort which may also help to positively influence sleep. Longer sleep duration, faster sleep onset and less nighttime awakenings are have been found with regular magnesium intake through food or supplementation.

Great sources of magnesium include:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • bananas
  • avocados and
  • dark chocolate


Omega-3 fatty acids


You’ve heard me telling you to eat them before and now they are showing more benefits again. Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts are sources of DHA which may increase serotonin production. An association has been found between higher levels of intake and better sleep quality.



A few other ways for a better sleep include

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to poor sleep quality. Adequate levels of vitamin D may support sleep regulation.

Examples: Fatty fish, eggs, fortified foods, and sunlight exposure.


Herbal Teas

These herbs have calming effects that can promote relaxation and support sleep onset.

Examples: Chamomile, valerian root, and lavender teas.


In summary


In conclusion, looking to improve sleep quality is crucial for goal attainment. It enhances focus, mood, and energy levels while facilitating physical recovery. Understanding the influence of diet on sleep quality highlights the importance of including tryptophan-rich foods, whole grain carbohydrates, magnesium sources, and omega-3 fatty acids. Incorporating adequate vitamin D and herbal teas known for their calming effects further contribute to optimising sleep, fostering overall well-being. Despite this nutritional advice aiding you to sleep peacefully however, there are no substitute for a good nighttime routine.


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