9 Vegan Foods To Help You Sleep

I've been having a bit of insomnia lately, which is actually quite unusual for me.  I usually fall asleep without much effort at all.  Life has been a bit hectic, and that's probably the root of my problem, my brain isn't ready to shut down when bedtime rolls around.  In the olden days (pre-vegan), I would usually have a bowl of cereal if I couldn't sleep.  I know hot milk is supposed to help... but the cold milk worked for me.  Soy milk, well - it isn't doing the trick.   I've also been doing all the other things they tell you to do.  I'm not consuming caffeine, I'm exercising early in the day, I'm not watching television in bed, I usually go to bed at the same time every night...  Last night I was still awake at 2.30 am.  Ugh.

So today I spent a few minutes looking for helpful suggestions, and by happy coincidence, Natural News has a column today entitled Healthy Foods That Promote Restful Sleep.  If all the usual suggestions fail (they have), the author suggests you should try to ingest some tryptophan as that helps create serotonin which helps you fall asleep.  Interestingly, you should combine the tryptophan with a carb-heavy food.  This makes sense.  Think about the sleepy feeling most people claim to feel after overeating at Thanksgiving.  Turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing.  The stuff that sleep is made of, for non-vegans anyway.

So what are these healthy foods?  Well (it gets even better), they're things most of us (vegans) have in our cupboards.

  1. Beans
  2. Whole grains, including rice
  3. Lentils
  4. Chickpeas
  5. Hazelnuts
  6. Peanuts
  7. Eggs
  8. Sunflower seeds
  9. Sesame seeds
  10. Miso (fermented soy beans)
  11. Raw dairy products (if you can tolerate dairy)

Don't forget you're supposed combine these with a carbohydrate rich food too.  (Although I'm not sure you'd need to do that with the rice...) So tonight, I'll be having a snack of multi-grain crackers with peanut butter.  Hopefully that will do the trick.  But I have to say, I'm a bit skeptical.  I often have rice and beans, and don't require a nap afterwards.  Well, it's certainly worth a try.

And here's my new vegan slogan...  Can't sleep?  Count sheep, don't eat them!   (So now you're all hoping that my snack tonight helps, or there may be more of this sleep-deprived nonsense to look forward too.)

Photo by Jason Cartwright


  1. The truth is that banana is the best source of tryptophan, because other amino acids (protein) reduce the ability of tryptophan to convert to serotonin, and pretty much all sources of tryptophan but bananas are high in other amino acids, as well. Some doctors have even claimed that eating a few bananas a day can work as an antidepressant treatment.

    Turkey is of course high-protein too, but it’s so high in tryptophan that some of it still gets to tickle the brain in the form of serotonin – or so they claim, while other researchers think that turkey meals make people drowsy simply by being heavy and containing plenty of carbs.

    But there could be some individual variation, of course. I know no food has ever made me tired.

    Have you tried melatonin? It solved my problems falling asleep which had lasted for 18 years! Tryptophan is also available as supplements, which might make it easier to get enough of it to actually produce noticeable effects.

  2. Hmmm….but the only problem is, I eat those things nearly every single day and I don’t feel it’s had any effect on my sleep either way. Or did they mean you should have an extra serving of some of those foods closer to bedtime? Because going to sleep after eating beans sounds like a gastric disaster to me!!

  3. Yes I eat like that often and it has no effect on my sleeping. I am sympathetic having suffered from insomnia for 25 years! I highly recommend Bach Flower Remedies spray called “Sleep”. I think an herbal remedy could be helpful too.

  4. Maybe you’ve already tried this, but I find a nice, hot cup of camomile tea helps me sleep. The problem with this method, though, is I need to wake up earlier than usual to go to the bathroom! No lying around listening to the clock radio for 20 minutes!

  5. Hi everyone,
    Thanks for the tips. I actually did finally manage to get a good nights sleep, but in all honesty, I’m not sure it was the snack that did it. I think I was simply exhausted and my body just took over.
    As I rarely have difficulty falling asleep (I know how lucky I am), I don’t know that I’ll have the occasion to try your suggestions, except perhaps for the chamomile.
    Again, thank you everyone!

  6. I’ve found avoiding certain foods to be just as important as consuming others. Spinach, for example, contains compounds which increase alertness. So does soy. So these are breakfast, lunch, or afternoon snack foods for me – not for dinner or dessert. Likewise chocolate.

    If I can stay away from those and similar foods, and have a couple of bananas before bedtime, I usually sleep pretty well. Carob, plums, dates, and nuts are also helpful.

    The other thing that is tremendously helpful, quite frankly, is when I stay on a raw foods diet – tons of energy, and blissfully sound sleep.

  7. I’ve had pretty bad insomnia nearly all through my teenage years, at 18 I just finally found the thing that works for me.

    A cup of chamomile tea and a banana before bed. I’ve known about chamomile tea for a while already, but coupled with a banana and I not only get a nice high quality sleep, but falling sleep is just so much easier.

    I just never felt tired at night, even if I’d gotten up early and had a full day of school and whatever else. But chamomile and a banana makes me feel sleepy.

  8. Thanks for the tips on vegan foods that make you sleepy. I’m going for the chamomile tea and banana. I just read a post of all the side effects in the drugs they are pushing for sleep. They are very scary! I’ve also found that when I eat more raw food and my greens that I sleep better. 🙂

  9. I found out that if I have soy products (milk or tofu) before bedtime, I have lousy sleep. I also found out that soy milk is much, much higher than cow milk in aluminum, which is counterproductive to sleep.

    I experimented with lactose-free cow milk (Lactaid) and had no problems sleeping well. I wonder if anyone else have the same sleeping problems with soy before bed? Tea is also high fluoride and aluminum, which I have abandoned.

    Tastewise I prefer soy over cow milk, but the link between high tofu consumption & dementia in Haiwai study, and the correlation between Alzheimer and aluminum deposists in the brain bother me.

    Anybody have additional info. to clarify the above, I’ll appreciate very much.

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