3 Superfoods to Beat Insomnia

Sleep better the natural way.

If you struggle with insomnia, you don’t need to watch TV to know what being a zombie feels like. You may be able to power through a sleepless night once in a while, but persistent insomnia has a serious impact on every aspect of life—not just on the bags under your eyes. Give your body the nutrients it needs to snooze better with these 3 superfoods to beat insomnia.

Sleep deprivation is a health hazard. Since sleep regulates hunger hormones, regular insomnia boosts the risk of obesity. Lack of sleep has also been linked to a higher risk of depression, heart attacks, and accidents. In fact, drowsy driving triggers an average of 83,000 car crashes and 800 fatalities each year [1]. Poor shut-eye also makes you less productive at work and probably a less pleasant person to be around, too. (Hey, no judgment—we’ve all been there!)

The superfoods below contain high levels of melatonin, a hormone secreted during the night. Its primary job is to regulate the circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock that governs sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin production goes down as we age, which may help explain the higher risk of insomnia among older people.

Should you use a melatonin supplement to battle insomnia? This sleep supplement, which is available in pill form without a prescription, is generally considered safe. However, there are questions surrounding proper dosage amounts. Some people may need as little as two-tenths of a milligram, yet supplements can contain as many as 10 milligrams per tablet. Finding the right dose is important because taking too much melatonin can have the opposite effect and disturb sleep cycles. Superfoods to beat insomnia are a better—and tastier—way to get the melatonin you may need to boost zzz’s.

1. Goji Berries
Superfood Strawberry and Goji Berry Smoothie

Goji berries are the fruit of a shrub native to China. They’re rich in a number of nutrients, including melatonin. Goji berries may interact with certain diabetes and blood pressure medications as well as some blood thinners; check with your physician first if you’re taking these or other medications [2]. Find goji berries in the dried fruit section of the grocery or health food store. Try this food for insomnia in Sautéed Fennel, Asparagus, and Goji Berries and Superfood Strawberry and Goji Berries.

2. Tart Cherries or Tart Cherry Juice
10-Minute Stovetop Granola

In one sleep study, participants were given either tart cherry juice or red fruit punch. Researchers found that those who drank the tart cherry juice had higher melatonin levels than the red punch drinkers. In addition, the tart cherry juice drinkers showed a significant increase in time in bed and total sleep time [3]. Add tart cherries to nonfat Greek yogurt, 10-Minute Stovetop Granola, or Honey Nut Breakfast Cereal. By the way, sweet cherries aren’t as sweet when it comes to melatonin; they contain far less than their tart cousins [4].

3. Walnuts
Black Pepper and Walnut Crusted Chicken Breasts

Research suggests this healthy tree nut increases melatonin levels in the blood [5]. It’s not yet clear how many walnuts a person needs to eat to benefit from its melatonin-boosting power. However, regular walnut munching offers so many other benefits that it’s worth adding these nuts to your menu no matter your health goals! Try this insomnia superfood in Harvest Salad with Maple Walnut Vinaigrette or Black Pepper and Walnut Crusted Chicken Breasts.


[1] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[2] WebMD

[3] U.S. National Library of Medicine

[4] Nutrition Facts

[5] U.S. National Library of Medicine

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Amy Wagner

Amy is a writer specializing in health & wellness, business, and entrepreneurship. She's a long-time martial arts teacher who has earned a 4th degree black belt in tae kwon do. When Amy's not writing or kicking, she's wrangling sons, reading fiction, or crushing on BBC actors.

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