Summer Foods to Help You Sleep During Pregnancy

June 8, 2023

Pregnant people need a lot of sleep, but unfortunately, sleep can be hard to come by when your body is busy growing a tiny human. Your belly is getting bigger, you’re up to use the bathroom all night long, there’s a good chance you’re dealing heartburn and other discomfort – oh, and your little one is kicking you more and more!

What you eat during pregnancy shouldn’t cause even more sleep challenges since you’re clearly dealing with enough already. For example, you probably already know to avoid red sauces and spicy foods if you’re battling heartburn. But, did you know that there are many pregnancy-approved foods that can actually promote better sleep? 

You can get a good night’s rest and satisfy you and your growing baby’s hunger. And, great news, many of the foods that help you sleep are in season or readily available right now! Keep reading to find out which summer-friendly foods help promote sleep.

How Food Affects Your Sleep

Many people are aware of the idea that our sleep follows a circadian rhythm, which is like our body’s internal clock. But, our digestive system follows a circadian rhythm, too. A sudden shift in our diet or eating habits can disrupt our sleep quality and vice versa. 

Sleep impacts our metabolism, and our diet impacts our sleep. For example, lack of sleep can cause your metabolism to become sluggish and your insulin sensitivity to drop. This makes you crave foods that will raise your blood sugar quickly, like sugar and carbohydrates. Eating these foods can then cause you to wake up when your blood sugar crashes during the night. 

When you’re pregnant, your entire digestive system slows down. This can lead to a variety of digestive issues, which can become even worse at night. Avoiding certain foods (like anything acidic!) and refraining from snacking too close to bedtime can help fight further sleep disturbances. 

Food Safety Reminders for Pregnant People

Sushi, which should be avoided during pregnancySushi, which should be avoided during pregnancy

While we’re on the subject of what to avoid in terms of food while you’re pregnant, it’s worth sharing some of the food safety basics that you’ll want to be familiar with when pregnant. These include avoiding: 

  • Seafood that’s high in mercury, like tuna 
  • Raw seafood, like sushi or oysters
  • Undercooked meat and poultry
  • Raw or undercooked eggs 
  • Unpasteurized cheeses, like Brie or feta 

Unwashed fruits and vegetables will likely contain harmful bacteria, parasites or pesticides, so always be sure to disinfect your produce whether pregnant or not. This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, so speak with your doctor or midwife for more info!

7 Summer-friendly Foods That Promote Sleep

Right! If you’re pregnant and struggling with sleep this summer, these are the foods for you. They are super tasty and safe for pregnancy, and they contain natural substances – like tryptophan, magnesium, calcium and melatonin – that promote a healthy sleep cycle. 

Pregant woman drinking milk to promote sleepPregant woman drinking milk to promote sleep

1. Dairy

A warm glass of milk, a bowl of Greek yogurt or a small serving of cottage cheese before bed are perfect sleep-promoting foods because they contain tryptophan and calcium. Calcium is effective in stress reduction and stabilizing the nervous system and can have a calming effect on the mind and body. 

2. Banana

Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, essential minerals that help relax muscles and calm the body. Bananas also contain tryptophan which is an amino acid that helps the body create vitamin B3 (Niacin). Niacin is responsible for making serotonin, which is a precursor to the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. 

3. Kiwi

This little fruit is rich in key micronutrients like magnesium and calcium. One kiwi fruit will provide your body with 12 mg of essential magnesium. Magnesium helps soothe sore muscles and aching joints and improves sleep. 

4. Walnuts

These nutrient-dense nuts are a wonderful source of tryptophan as well as a unique source of melatonin. They are also rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids and a good source of protein.

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5. Jasmine Rice

When properly prepared, jasmine rice has been shown to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep due to its high glycemic index. Whole grains in general can be a good source of tryptophan and melatonin.

6. Chamomile Tea

Calming and comforting, this bedtime beverage can increase Glycine which acts as a mild sedative and can relax the nervous system. Add a little honey and some milk for even more sleep-promoting properties. If it feels too summery for hot tea, try it iced! 

7. Tart Cherry

Tart cherries in particular contain a high amount of melatonin. Sipping some tart cherry juice or enjoying a serving of fresh, frozen or dried tart cherries before bed can boost your body’s supply of melatonin for better sleep. 

Pregnant woman dozing on her bedPregnant woman dozing on her bed

Bonus Tips for Better Sleep During Pregnancy

If these sleep-promoting foods still fail you, there are other trusty tips you can try to improve your sleep during pregnancy. For example, try getting in bed at the same time every night, and reduce your use of electronics and exposure to blue light once the sun goes down.

When pregnant, you are also at higher risk of developing sleep disordered breathing (SDB). Raising the head of your bed or using a wedge pillow can help. Similarly, pregnant people are more likely to experience leg cramping or restless leg syndrome at night. Topical magnesium may help, as well as gentle leg stretches at night and light exercise during the day. Your body temperature is also higher while pregnant, so setting the thermostat extra low can also help you sleep better. 

Stock your fridge with sleep promoting snacks and set a reminder for other sleep tips you may need. Sweet dreams for you and baby are possible this summer. Don’t forget you can always try singing a lullaby so your baby can hear you and get to know your voice … you may end up lulling you both to sleep!

Remember, finding the right sleep position is key, too. Looking for the best and worst sleep positions during pregnancy? We can help!