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15 foods to help you sleep better

By Friederike Ostermeyer | January 30, 2021, 5:11 p.m.

It is well known that the wrong diet can lead to poor sleep. In return, however, there are also foods that noticeably improve the quality of sleep. FITBOOK found out what these are and how it works from the two nutrition experts Dörte and Jesko Wilke.

Little alcohol, enough exercise, possibly even a low-carb diet - and still you can hardly sleep an eye at night? The nutrition experts Dörte and Jesko Wilke know that the solution to the riddle could actually be that you are eating the wrong foods at the wrong time. If the choice of food is approached correctly, "the quality of sleep improves noticeably after ten days." The good news: Carbohydrates are not only expressly allowed, they are practically the key to a good night's sleep - provided they are combined with the right foods .

Why sleep quality suffers without carbohydrates

“Whether and how well we sleep depends on how well our brain can produce the sleep hormone melatonin,” says Dörte Wilke, who wrote the recently published guide “Das Schlaf-Gut-Kochbuch” together with her husband. "In order for this process to function smoothly, the amino acid L-tryptophan must be absorbed through the diet." The problem: Without the help of carbohydrates and certain nutrients (e.g. B vitamins, folic acid or magnesium) said L-tryptophan hardly has any a chance to cross the blood-brain barrier in order to finally be converted into the so-called happiness hormone serotonin or, after dark, into melatonin. In short: Without enough carbohydrates, too little melatonin is produced. It is logical that restful sleep is difficult to achieve under these conditions.

"During our research we found out that the low-carb trend is literally robbing us of sleep," said Jesko Wilke. "Healthy carbohydrates in the evening, including whole grain products, potatoes and vegetables, have a calming effect and prepare the body and brain for the night ahead."

Also interesting: Do carbohydrates make you fat in the evening?

The most important rules for improving the quality of sleep through nutrition

A “sleep-well-diet” is anything but complicated. “It all starts with the right breakfast,” the nutritionists know. There is a simple rule of thumb for this: protein in the morning, raw vegetables for lunch, warm and carbohydrate-rich in the evening. So if you start your day with an omelette, eat a large salad at lunchtime and choose wholegrain pasta with vegetables for dinner, you will ensure that the brain has enough L-tryptophan available for melantonin production before going to bed.

Also interesting: Does sleeping too long really make us tired instead of fit?

15 foods that will help you sleep better

To help the whole process a little more, Dörte and Jesko Wilke have identified 15 foods that people with sleep problems should put on their shopping lists particularly often.


In addition to healthy fats, the tasty superfruit provides plenty of magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin D. Three essential nutrients that help L-tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier. Combined with a fresh wholemeal bread, thanks to the carbohydrates, it says a little later: good night!

Also interesting: healthy avocado - ingredients, nutritional values ​​and preparation


The banana is considered to be an absolute feel-good fruit that even the little ones love. Why? Because slumber-friendly B vitamins, magnesium and carbohydrates are at work here too.


"For me, the cashew nut is the top food for a better quality of sleep," says Dörte Wilke. "It has an extremely high trypthophan content and provides the necessary carbohydrates at the same time." Whether as an addition to mueslis or curries, as a nut or topping - if a food deserves the name "bed treats", it is the cashew nut.


The substance "spermidine" contained in mushrooms is currently considered to be the Anti aging wonders and beauty boosters. Although there is still a lot of research to be done, its cell-regenerating properties are believed to be safe. "Since cell damage is mainly repaired during sleep, mushrooms clearly belong on our hit list." Important: Always pay attention to freshness when buying.

Chinese cabbage

Chinese cabbage is rich in folic acid (vitamin B9). This nutrient is also an important helper when it comes to converting L-tryptophan into melatonin. Professional tip: "When cooking, a lot of valuable folic acid is destroyed, so plan Chinese cabbage first as a raw food."


Eggs are tiny, extremely nutritious L-tryptophan bombs. Vegetarians in particular should take courage. For example in the form of fried eggs with mashed potatoes - there is hardly a nicer way to feast to sleep.


In addition to L-tryptophan, oat flakes also contain the amino acid glycine. “This inhibits the transmission of nerve stimuli and thereby relaxes the muscles. A real tranquilizer, and also gentle on the stomach. ”For the two authors, oatmeal is therefore one of the best sleep-good snacks of all.

Also interesting: 7 reasons to eat oatmeal for breakfast every day

harzer cheese

Hardly any fat, but plenty of protein, including the much-touted premium nutrient L-tryptophan. When enjoyed as a topping on cheese bread, Harz cheese unfolds its full effect accordingly.


Legumes are generally good sources of L-tryptophan. They are also rich in fiber and offer a mix of B vitamins and minerals. Chickpeas are especially tasty for most people. Therefore: clear recommendation!


Cherries are one of the few foods that contain “ready-made” melatonin, so to speak. This means that the brain does not have to laboriously manufacture it itself. Studies have shown that eating cherries (but also cranberries) directly increases melatonin levels in the brain. The concentration is highest in dried fruits, which also makes them an ideal “bedtime treat”.


The omega-3 fatty acids contained in salmon ensure that melatonin synthesis works smoothly in the brain. This supports a stable state of mind, which in turn has positive effects on the quality of sleep. If you don't want to eat fish, Dörte and Jesko Wilke recommend sustainable algae oil.


One corn on the cob already covers a third of the daily requirement of magnesium, which is known to have a calming effect. Attention: Do not confuse it with popcorn, use the fresh product.


Mussels are among the best sources of vitamin B12. Together with zinc and vitamin D, the nutrient has a healthy sleep-inducing effect.


A lot of magnesium, plenty of folic acid - as already learned, a great sleep-well combination. Again, use the spinach in the form of a salad or as a smoothie ingredient instead of cooking it, so that the valuable nutrients are retained.


Virtually all nuts contain L-tryptophan. Walnuts also provide vitamin B6, zinc and magnesium. We can hardly make it easier for the brain to turn it into the desired melatonin. One of the best foods for a good night's sleep. In this sense: grab it!

We wish you a good night's sleep!

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