In How Tos, Inspiration

They say you get out what you put in, and sleep is no different. Anyone who has enjoyed a late-night cup of coffee or sugary treat knows how food can affect your sleep. A healthy diet plays an important role, among other healthy habits that all contribute to a good snooze. 

Foods that affect sleep


It is said that the numerous vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins C and E as well as potassium and folate found in this small and tasty fruit could help to improve sleep. One study showed that people who ate two kiwis one hour before bedtime found that they fell asleep faster, slept more, and had better sleep quality.

Researchers think that this could be due to kiwis antioxidant properties, ability to address folate deficiencies, and/or high concentration of serotonin.

Malted Milk 

Malted milk powder drinks like Horlicks (which has become notoriously difficult to find in South Africa) is combined with milk to make a tasty warm drink. The powder formulation usually includes wheat flour, malted wheat and malted barley with sugar and vitamins. 

The reason it could promote sleep is that some milk naturally contains melatonin, which aids sleep and when combined with the vitamins B and D in Horlicks, could make for a winning combination. 

Horlicks is still available online in South Africa and in some stores. 

Fatty Fish

Research studies have shown that over a period of months people who ate salmon three times per week had better overall sleep as well as improved daytime functioning. Why? Fatty fish provides a healthy dose of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are needed for your body to regulate its serotonin levels.

Including more fatty fish in your diet could help you sleep better, or you could take high-quality fish oil capsules. 


Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews are often considered to be good food for sleep. 

They also contain melatonin and essential minerals like magnesium and zinc which help the body function. 

A clinical trial found that a combination of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc helped older adults with insomnia get better sleep.

Foods and habits to avoid

  • Limit caffeine intake in the late afternoon and evening. Avoid coffee, teas and caffeinated drinks
  • Alcohol may make you feel sleepy but it can disturb your sleep cycles and leave you feeling unrested in the morning 
  • Try to time your evening meals earlier to allow enough time to digest your food and thereby avoid acid reflux and heartburn that can disturb you at night. 
  • Save spicy or acidic foods for lunchtime or make them an early dinner to allow time for proper digestion
  • Drink enough water throughout the day to avoid waking up thirsty at night

Other healthy habits

Eating certain foods is just one part of the bigger picture. Here are some key factors to check off to ensure better sleep

Invest in your sleep environment

  • Get the best quality mattress and bedding you can afford to ensure optimum comfort and sleep quality
  • Create a sleep-promoting space that is dark and quiet. You can use white noise machines and blackout curtains to optimise your bedroom

Create good bedtime habits

  • Avoid screen time at least one hour before bed (that includes TVs, laptops and phones)
  • Wind down before bedtime and try not to work or do anything too stimulating right before you go to sleep
  • Do something to relax before bed like shower, bath or read a book as a recurring sleep cue

Shop sleep sanctuary essentials> 

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