10/17/2022 | By Jessica Ball, M.S., RD

Much has been said about the benefits of getting enough sleep, but did you know that what you eat and drink affects the quality and duration of your sleep? And not just that much-maligned villain, caffeine! Here are the best foods to aid sleep and help you if you are sleep deprived.

Sleep is super important – not only for feeling energized and focused, but also for immunity, heart health, glowing skin, and weight stabilization. If you have a bad night of sleep and are feeling sleep deprived, don’t sweat it too much. Lean on foods and drinks, like these, to help give you a boost until you’re able to get the rest you need.

Foods to aid sleep and fight sleep deprivation


Water is the most important drink when you are sleep deprived. Dehydration can lead to overeating, moodiness, and headaches, which can be especially draining if you’re lacking sleep. These issues also interfere with a good night of sleep, making water one of the best foods to aid sleep. Staying hydrated will help you feel energized in the short and long term. It’s also important for your brain, skin, heart, and more. Carry a water bottle with you to make it easy to sip throughout the day.

Related: The Importance of Hydration for Seniors

Coffee and tea

Even though drinking water is most important, there’s nothing wrong with having a moderate amount of caffeine, especially if you’re groggy. Plus, there are some potential health benefits from drinking coffee and tea. Beyond boosting mood and increasing alertness, compounds in coffee may even improve heart health, brain health, diabetes, and more. Tea contains compounds that, when regularly consumed, may decrease stroke and cancer risk, and it also, when decaffeinated, can improve sleep deprivation in the long term.

Related: 6 Important Health Benefits of Coffee

Nuts and seeds

calcium rich foods for those who are sleep deprived

A great option for sustained energy when you hit an afternoon lull, nuts and seeds are packed with healthy fats, protein, and fiber to help you feel full longer. Nuts like walnuts are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows can promote healthy sleep. Seeds like chia seeds and flaxseeds are packed with fiber, a crucial nutrient for avoiding sleep deprivation, earning them a spot among the foods to aid sleep.

Fiber-rich foods

There are several reasons why fiber is great for those who feel sleep deprived. Fiber helps keep blood sugar steady for longer periods of time, so you can avoid the spikes and crashes that send our energy levels on a roller coaster. Eating enough fiber can also improve sleep quality, thus helping to aid sleep. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are packed with healthy fiber.


Eggs are high in protein, which makes them filling and satisfying. Not to mention, they are quite versatile and affordable. Eggs are also a great source of vitamin B12, which helps our cells metabolize energy and function at our best to prevent sleep deprivation.

Calcium-rich foods

Foods like dairy, soybeans, sardines, and leafy greens are worthwhile additions to your plate when you need energy. They’re high in protein, to keep you feeling fueled, and also are packed with calcium. A lack of calcium can make it challenging to get quality sleep, possibly because of calcium’s link to healthy blood pressure.

Iron-rich foods

Not getting enough iron can lead to general fatigue and even anemia. Iron is the main nutrient that delivers oxygen throughout our bodies. To help you feel energized on a regular basis, make sure to include iron-rich foods like spinach, kale, red meat, and clams in your eating pattern. Clams in particular are also rich in energy-boosting nutrients like vitamin B12 and coenzyme Q10.

Still feeling sleep deprived?

Sleep is important for short- and long-term health and wellness. Try adjusting your routine to help you get at least seven hours a night. For days when you didn’t catch enough zzz’s, these foods aid sleep by giving you a boost. They also set you up for better sleep in nights to come.

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Jessica Ball, M.S., RD

Jessica Ball is associate nutrition digital editor at She earned her bachelor’s of science degree in dietetics with a minor in food systems and sustainability from Michigan State University, and her master’s of science in dietetics and dietetic internship at the University of Vermont. She covers nutrition news, sustainability, gardening and budget-friendly cooking content for