5 Science-Backed Foods for Better Sleep

Article posted in: Lifestyle Diet & Nutrition
A bowl of tart cherries is one delicious way to get better sleep

How well we sleep affects what we eat. Research shows that sleep-deprived people consistently consume more calories than people who get the recommended seven or more hours of sleep each night.

If we’re overly tired, we’re also more likely to choose unhealthy foods to deal with cravings and fluctuating blood sugar levels. But there’s another side to this: what we eat directly affects how well we sleep. The five foods listed below have been found by doctors and researchers to help people fall asleep and rest more soundly.

1. Salmon

Fatty fish like salmon have omega-3s that can help you relax and sleep better

Nutrisystem Category: PowerFuels

Serving size: 2 ounces

Why: Eating salmon three times per week for several months helped study subjects have better overall sleep as well as improved daytime functioning, according to a report in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. “Researchers believe that fatty fish may help sleep by providing a healthy dose of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are involved in the body’s regulation of serotonin,” explains the National Sleep Foundation. Serotonin is a hormone that plays a role in energy balance, sleep, mood, emotions and appetite. Eating fatty fish like salmon is a natural way to potentially get some of these benefits.

Try: Canned salmon is convenient to keep on hand, ready to eat whenever you are. Plus, it’s just as nutritious as fresh fish. Our Grilled Feta Salmon Burger recipe is loaded with flavor and protein to keep you satisfied. Make sure to also try out our Sheet Pan Pesto Salmon and Veggies recipe, the perfect one-pan Flex meal!

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2. Nuts

Of all nuts, walnuts have the highest amount of melatonin to help you sleep

Nutrisystem Category: PowerFuels

Serving size: 2 Tablespoons or ½ ounce

Why: Along with protein and healthy fats to keep you feeling full while you sleep, nuts may help replenish your body’s supply of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your internal clock and helps your brain feel tired at bedtime. When fed an extract from walnuts, laboratory animals had high concentrations of melatonin in their bodies, according to a report published in the journal Nutrition. Walnuts also contain other nutrients associated with better sleep, including magnesium, potassium, folate and calcium. You can also get melatonin from other nuts like almonds, pistachios and cashews.

Try: Be aware that packages of nuts can come with a lot of extra oil and salt. Look for dry-roasted, unsalted versions. With Air Fryer Spiced Nuts, you can bump up the flavor of walnuts, almonds and pecans with a sweet and zesty seasoning of cinnamon and cayenne pepper and no added sodium. The spiced nuts come out of the oil-free air fryer extra crispy and tasty.

3. Milk

Dairy is high in amino acids like tryptophan that can promote better sleep

Nutrisystem Category: PowerFuels

Serving size: 1 cup or 8 ounces

Why: Your mother or grandmother may have offered you warm milk when you were a child and having trouble sleeping. Science supports drinking milk as a natural home remedy for insomnia. While warm milk may be soothing if it’s tied to positive childhood memories, dairy foods like milk and cheese are high in an amino acid called tryptophan that promotes the production of serotonin and melatonin. “Milk contains four sleep-promoting compounds: tryptophan, calcium, vitamin D, and melatonin,” says Medical News Today.

Fun Fact: According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Milk collected from cows milked at night contains ample amounts of melatonin in addition to tryptophan.”

Try:  When shopping for milk, cheese or other dairy products, be sure to get low-fat varieties rather than whole milk types. Sip on this Peppermint White Hot Chocolate for a comforting and healthy snack that features skim milk. It’s perfectly flavored with white chocolate, peppermint extract and fat-free cool whip.

4. Eggs

Eggs are rich in melatonin and tryptophan

Nutrisystem Category: PowerFuels

Serving size: 1 large egg

Why: Eggs are a rich source of melatonin and, like milk, egg whites specifically are loaded with tryptophan. What’s more, eggs give you a healthy supply of easy-to-digest protein. Eating a diet high in lean protein helps people to sleep better as they lose weight, according to researchers at Purdue University.

Try: There are so many delicious ways to enjoy eggs on Nutrisystem, as they are a perfectly portioned PowerFuel. From Air Fryer Baked Eggs to Easy Egg and Toast Cups, you can eat eggs for breakfast, lunch or dinner on our plan.

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5. Cherries

Tart cherries have more melatonin than any other food

Nutrisystem Category: SmartCarbs

Serving size: 1 cup

Why: Tart cherries (also known as pie cherries) have just about the highest concentration of melatonin of any food. Drinking cherry juice helped study subjects to sleep more soundly, according to research published in the American Journal of Therapeutics. The cherries also appeared to reduce inflammation in the people who drank it. Pain from swollen joints is a common cause of sleep troubles for people, especially as they grow older.

Try: Eating real cherries contains more fiber than just drinking the juice. You can add cherries to your Chocolate Nutrisystem Shake Mix to create this rich and creamy Black Forest Chocolate Cherry Milkshake recipe. Our recipe for Chocolate Cherry Bliss Balls features nuts along with the cherries to give you twice the sleep benefits.

*Speak to your doctor before making any changes to your diet or if you have any questions about sleep.