5 Diet Tips to Help You Sleep Better

The change from Standard to Daylight Saving Time in the spring and back again in the fall can mess up your sleeping pattern. So can travel across a couple of time zones.

Your body will adjust over time, but the foods and beverages you consume might help you get a better night's sleep while you're catching up to the change. Here are five sleep-promoting tips, including what to avoid and what to add to your diet.


Go Easy on the Coffee, Soda, and Energy Drinks

black coffee

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Caffeine is the first thing to consider if you're having trouble getting to sleep. Even if you're not crossing time zones or coping with Daylight Saving Time, drinking too much coffee in the afternoon or evening can disrupt sleep.

Quitting the caffeine habit isn't easy or comfortable. Many people suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness, flu-like feelings, irritability and lack of concentration when they give up caffeine cold turkey.

You can avoid those symptoms by gradually withdrawing. Try blending decaffeinated coffee with regular coffee. Increase the amount of decaf over a few weeks' time — before you travel or before the clock changes.


Don't Drink Too Much Alcohol

Although a little bit of alcohol may make you feel relaxed and sleepy, over-imbibing in your favorite adult beverages may cause a very restless uncomfortable night. You may fall asleep easily enough, but sleep is often disrupted in the middle of the night, which is the last thing you need when you're trying to adjust to a time change.

Stick to one drink. That's equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or one shot of liquor. Or skip the potent potables altogether. 


Eat Light at Dinner Time

An evening meal that's heavy in fat and protein could lead to indigestion and heartburn, and that's not conducive to a good night's sleep. Avoid creamy sauces, deep-fried foods and large cuts of meat. Keep portions on the small side — don't stuff yourself. 

Opt for something light, like baked halibut and spinach, both of which are high in tryptophan, which your body needs to produce serotonin, a hormone that promotes relaxation. Chickpeas are also high in tryptophan. 

Other options include a salad as a meal, a small bowl of soup and a slice of whole-grain bread, or a plate of mixed vegetables.


Drink Tart Cherry Juice

glass of cherry juice on a coaster

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Tart cherry juice is high in melatonin — something your body produces naturally to regulate sleep. The extra melatonin from the cherry juice may help improve sleep quality and duration.

Don't like tart cherries? Walnuts are also high in melatonin, as are bananas, pineapples, almonds, raspberries, and oranges. Or pick up a bottle of melatonin supplements. Be sure to follow label instructions, and if you have any health conditions, speak to your doctor first.


Eat a Carbohydrate-Rich Bedtime Snack

A small bedtime snack that's high in complex carbohydrates can boost your serotonin levels and help you relax. Cereal and milk, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or cheese, fruit, and crackers are all good suggestions, so long as you choose wisely. For example, opt for peanut butter made only from peanuts, jelly made just from fruit, and whole-grain bread when making your sandwich. Take care to make smart snack selections.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ozsungur S, Brenner D, El-sohemy A. Fourteen well-described caffeine withdrawal symptoms factor into three clusters. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009;201(4):541-8. doi:10.1007/s00213-008-1329-y

  2. Thakkar MM, Sharma R, Sahota P. Alcohol disrupts sleep homeostasis. Alcohol. 2015;49(4):299-310. doi:10.1016/j.alcohol.2014.07.019

  3. Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr. 2012;51(8):909-16. doi:10.1007/s00394-011-0263-7

  4. National Sleep Foundation. Food and drink that promote a good night's sleep.

By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.