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The Best Foods for Sleep and Energy According to Experts

by Kitchen Cabinet Kings(more info)

listed in sleep and insomnia, originally published in issue 265 - September 2020


Edited from  


A lack of sleep affects not only energy levels throughout the day, but overall productivity, the immune system, and mood. According to the Sleep Foundation, nearly 50% of Americans report poor quality of rest negatively affecting their daily lives. Inadequate sleep changes hormone levels. When these levels aren't balanced, our appetite is affected often leading to an increase in unhealthy food cravings, continuing the cycle of a poor diet.

We asked CEOs, entrepreneurs, nutritionists, and doctors what food they eat to ensure restful sleep and energy during the day. We compiled the information for a comprehensive look into what foods you should eat to improve overall productivity, segmented by dietary constraints

To promote energy throughout the day, look for foods with protein, fatty acids, B vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants. In contrast, to induce healthy sleep habits, look for foods that have magnesium, potassium, tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin.


Infographic: 12 Foods that Promote Productivity in Every Diet

Infographic: 12 Foods that Promote Productivity in Every Diet


Foods high in energy-boosting nutrients: eggs, salmon, dark chocolate, oatmeal, and avocado. Foods with sedative effects: turkey, lentils, popcorn, almond butter, and bananas.

Certain foods affect the chemicals in your brain to support healthy sleep. These nutrients allow minerals to create the amino acid, tryptophan, which helps promote a healthy REM cycle. Spicy and acidic foods, along with caffeine, can have a direct impact on sleep quality. Not only are these foods stimulatory, but they can cause heartburn that activates acid reflux, which is exacerbated by lying down

What Constitutes Food for Sleep?

The amino acid tryptophan increases chemicals that coax you to sleep by relaxing muscles. This acid stimulates the hormone melatonin and the neurotransmitter serotonin, both of which control sleep patterns. Additionally, foods rich in antioxidants have the ability to counteract stress caused by various sleep disorders.

Founder of Sleeping Lucid, Liz Brown, disclosed that fibre is also beneficial to healthy sleep patterns, explaining that foods rich in fibre increase deep, slow-wave sleep.

Diet-Specific Food for Sleep

Smart Healthy Living's advisory board member Amanda A Kostro Miller RD LDN explained that low blood sugar, a result of fasting, can cause anxiety. She further explains that this feeling is the body's way of notifying you of low blood sugar.

To combat this, she suggests having a bedtime snack that contains both carbohydrates and protein. "Carbohydrates can raise your blood sugar, which has a sleeping effect. Protein helps you stay full throughout the night so that you don't wake up hungry later on" says Miller.

How to Incorporate Food for Sleep into a Routine

Registered Dietitian, Colleen Christensen encourages her clients to enjoy treats without guilt. Christensen says "Having chocolate in the evening is a key food for successful people! I say this because it's so important to not stress over food and try to be perfect. Satisfying cravings allows you to put your energy towards work, not feeling guilty or stressing about indulging."

Although it's important to satisfy cravings, it's equally as important to avoid overeating. "A full tummy can cause insomnia" explains Billy Goldberg, CEO of Billy Goldberg Partners, "overeating is one of the common mistakes insomniacs make. The perfect compromise is a small snack high in fibre and healthy fats".

Dr Meghan Walker, a Naturopathic Doctor for Entrepology Labs & Clinician Business Labs, focuses on optimizing the health and performance of entrepreneurs and executives. She explains that beef or turkey jerky is a nutritional hack that's been universally beneficial for focused brain function. She explains that "the combination of protein, fat, and salt for the adrenal glands has been a secret weapon for my executives for years".

What Constitutes Food for Energy?

Foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) are converted into glucose at a much slower rate than their high GI counterparts. When you consume foods with a lower index, you can better regulate your blood sugar levels for more consistent energy levels.

Erik Levi, a certified Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner at Holistic Nootropics, says a diet to promote energy should focus on low or no-carb foods. He explains that carbohydrates break down into glucose in the blood, which raises cortisol. High cortisol levels exaggerate an insulin response which makes you hungry, tired, and stressed soon after consumption.

Diet-Specific Food for Energy

Lisa Richards, author of The Candida Diet, recounts "a diet high in refined carbohydrates results in chronic inflammation in the body". She goes on to detail how this inflammation negatively affects cognitive function, including the ability to focus.

Eat healthy fats at the start of the day to provide sustained energy and healthy hormone levels. Avoid herbs with a stimulatory effect, such as red and black pepper.

How to Incorporate Food for Energy Into a Routine

Financial planner, Tom Corley, studied over 350 wealthy people and wrote about it in his book, Rich Habits. He notes that 44% of wealthy people wake up at least three hours before their workday starts. It's important to note, though, that these early morning routines don't always suggest an immediate breakfast.

Founder of The Advisor Coach, James Pollard, supports these claims explaining that "most people's brains operate at peak efficiency in the morning and eating something causes resources to go from your brain to aid in digestion". That being said, allow yourself at least 90 minutes after you wake up before eating anything.

Food intake is an essential part of any healthy diet. Stock your kitchen cupboards full of foods that include these natural supplements to promote energy when you need it, and deep sleep at the end of a successful day.


Scientific American



Science Daily 1, 2

Thrive Time Show


Sleep Foundation

Acknowledgement Citation

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Kitchen Cabinet Kings is a leading distributor of pre-assembled and ready to assemble kitchen cabinets online. We deliver our premium, stock cabinetry to your home or job site in 7-21 business days, with an average savings of 50% versus big box and local retailers. Whether you're looking for wholesale kitchen cabinets, ready to assemble bathroom cabinets, or assembled bathroom cabinets we've got you covered. Our mission is to provide you with high-quality, all plywood kitchen cabinets, fast delivery lead time, and superior customer service, all at discount prices you can afford.

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