Sleep-Promoting Fruits and Vegetables to Help You Sleep More Soundly

I don’t handle Daylight Savings Time transitions well. My body rejects the time change and I struggle to reset my internal clock to accommodate the longer days. In the past, I’ve used Nature’s Made melatonin to help me transition and maintain my sleep schedule. While it works well, lately I’ve been looking at adding sleep-promoting fruits and vegetables into my diet instead. Brandon and I both try to minimize our use of any medications or supplements so learning how to incorporate sleep-promoting food into our meal planning is a big goal of ours this season.

He and I are naturally night owls and research shows it is particularly difficult for night owls to adjust to Daylight Savings Time. Our circadian rhythms never fully adjust and it throws off our sleep patterns for weeks or months. While I love the longer days because it means more outdoor time with the dogs and more time to work in our little garden, it also means my sleep schedule is completely off kilter. Some nights I’ll barely get 3 or 4 hours of sleep before I have to be up the next morning. 

Our sleep schedules struggle to stay consistent because of how our bodies produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep/wake schedule. Melatonin production is based on light – the more light we’re exposed to, the less melatonin we produce so we stay awake. Once we’re exposed to darkness our bodies produce an increase in melatonin which prepares our bodies for sleep. Taking melatonin supplements at night increases your melatonin levels which triggers sleepiness however you can get a similar effect by increasing your consumption of sleep-promoting fruits and vegetables, most of which you likely already have in your kitchen.

12 sleep promoting fruits and vegetables

12 Sleep-Promoting Fruits and Vegetables

While these sleep-promoting fruits and vegetables shouldn’t be considered a cure-all for insomnia, they can help your body adjust to the time change due to their melatonin, tryptophan, magnesium, or calcium levels. Try incorporating a few into your dinner plans or enjoy them as a snack before bed. 

1. Walnuts. Walnuts contain tryptophan which, when ingested, is turned into serotonin and converted into melatonin. A 2008 University of Texas study found that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster.

2. Bananas. Bananas also contain tryptophan, which is turned into serotonin and melatonin. They are a good source of vitamin B6, which raises serotonin levels. 

3. Oranges. Oranges have been shown to increase the melatonin in your body by up to 47 percent! They’re also a great source of B vitamins which can help reduce anxiety and depression.

sleep-promoting fruits and vegetables like oranges

4. Cherries. Cherries (especially sour cherries) are one of the highest natural food sources of melatonin. Studies have shown a boost in circulating melatonin after consumption of cherries, although sweet cherries have been found to contain half the melatonin of sour cherries. 

5. Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, magnesium and calcium which help you relax so you can fall asleep easier and sleep more soundly. 

6. Pineapples. Pineapples have very high melatonin levels and are a great late-night snack for easing insomnia. Pineapple also aids digestion which can help you break down heavy meals overnight, especially if you suffer from stomach troubles.

7. Pistachios. Pistachios are packed with protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium, all of which contribute to better sleep patterns. It’s wise to limit your intake of pistachios though because too many can have the opposite effect and actually keep you awake due to the high caloric intake.

8. Tomatoes. Tomatoes are high in lycopene which helps you stay asleep. Your body processes lycopene better when it’s warmed so roast the tomatoes or simmer them in light extra-virgin olive oil before consuming.

Sleep-promoting fruits and vegetables like tomatoes

9. Avocados. Avocados are high in magnesium, which is a mineral directly linked to your quality of sleep. If you don’t consume enough magnesium you can have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

10. Cucumbers. Cucumbers are also high in magnesium. They also help regulate your metabolism, to help reduce sleep disorders and the occurrence of insomnia

11. Kale. Kale is loaded with calcium which helps the brain use tryptophan to boost melatonin. This actually applies to all of the dark leafy greens (collards, spinach, broccoli, etc.) so load up at dinnertime!

12. Carrots. Carrots contain high levels of alpha-carotene which is associated with better sleep patterns. Eating carrots before bed has been shown to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.

If you haven’t planted any of these in your garden this year, now’s the time to get started. For tips on starting a container garden, see here. We started carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, spinach, and kale last week. They are pretty much the foundation of our salad garden every year although last year the local deer devoured everything I tried to plant. This year I’ve brought a lot of it inside to plant in a mobile salad garden cart so I can keep the deer away and keep the vegetables close at hand. If you want to try growing your own vegetables but don’t have an outdoor space of your own to use, it’s a great option for a small indoor garden. 

Do you have trouble adjusting to Daylight Savings Time? 

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  1. I never even thought about how different veggies could affect my sleep. I already eat a lot of carrots and sweet potatoes so that’s a good start!

  2. I didn’t know all of those fruits or vegetables that could help me sleep. My body did have a hard to adjusting to the time change. I don’t think I fully woke up yesterday.

  3. Wow I had no idea about these veggies and fruit helping with sleep! This is so insightful and very informative. I will definitely start to included those listed into my diet more.

  4. Better sleep is what I’ve been wishing for. I never knew that we can have a soundly sleep with these fruits and veggies. Very informative. That is really good to know.

  5. I had heard that about bananas, but not oranges. They’re so full of acid that I would be afraid it would also cause some heartburn if you try to lay down right after eating them.

    • I’ve never had a problem with oranges at night but I could see them affecting others for sure. The same could apply to tomatoes so you could try eating them at dinner instead of immediately before bed.

  6. Gonna have to try this. I also have a very hard time with Daylight Savings Time, so I’ll bookmark this for future reference.

  7. This is a great list! I already eat a lot of these, but I had no idea that pistachios would do the trick!

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