The recipe for a good night's sleep

Many people are unaware of the link between diet and sleep, however studies have shown that individuals who have a balanced and varied diet are more likely to sleep well.

Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron2 and Vitamin B12, can cause fatigue and tiredness, and could cause sleep problems. Meanwhile, ensuring a diet that includes foods high in tryptophan, magnesium and calcium, can help to improve sleep quality. So, how can you eat your way to sleeping better?

What nutrients help sleep

While a balanced diet is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and sleep quality, there are certain nutrients, vitamins and minerals that can help to improve sleep, including:

  • Tryptophan – tryptophan is converted by the body into serotonin and in turn melatonin, which helps regulate our circadian rhythm, also known as our ‘body clock’.
  • Magnesium – magnesium helps to calm the nervous system by reducing levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
  • Calcium – calcium helps the brain covert tryptophan into melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep–wake cycle.
  • Omega 3 – in previous studies, Omega 3 has been shown to improve sleep duration.
  • B vitamins – B vitamins are essential in regulating the body’s level of tryptophan, which is then converted into the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.

Foods that can improve your sleep

The right nutrients can play a useful role in helping you to improve your sleep. Here are just some foods that can help you achieve a better night’s sleep:

  • Cheese – it’s a myth that cheese gives you nightmares. Cheese is actually a source of tryptophan, which plays a vital role in the production of melatonin.
  • Salmon – this fish is a good source of Omega 3, as well as magnesium, Vitamin B6 and tryptophan, which help to induce sleep, and improve sleep duration.
  • Yoghurt – yoghurt is an excellent source of calcium, tryptophan and magnesium, all of which help to promote sleep. These nutrients can help you get to sleep quicker and stay in the restorative REM stage of sleep for longer.
  • Legumes - beans and legumes are high in B vitamins, such as B6 and B12, which are important for helping regulate your circadian rhythm and encourage your serotonin levels. Legumes are a particularly good sleep-friendly ingredient for those who have a plant-based diet.
  • Tofu – soy products are great sources of tryptophan, which is converted into melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Not only this, tofu is also rich in protein and can contain calcium, both of which are sleep promoting compounds.

For more tips from Sealy UK on how to get a healthy night’s sleep and to tackle poor sleep habits go to

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Last revised: 12 February 2020
Next review: 12 February 2021