It’s long been known that your bedtime routine can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep. Whether you drink tea, meditate or just settle into bed with a good book, we all have our own way of getting ready for a good night’s sleep.

But could fruit be the missing piece in your pre-sleep preparations?

“We know that the Mediterranean Diet is associated with better sleep, so it follows that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and swapping unsaturated fats like olive oil and avocados, may also improve sleep,” says Melissa Keeney, RDN, a registered dietitian with Hartford HealthCare.

Keeney explains what fruit you should consider adding to your bedtime plans, and other steps you can take to ensure you sleep soundly.

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Fruits for ZZZs

Research, says Keeney, has proven that the following fruits help us sleep better:

  • Kiwi. One group of researchers showed that eating two kiwis an hour before bedtime for four weeks increased the total sleep time and sleep efficiency in adults who reported having sleep disorders. Kiwi, Keeney says, contains serotonin, a chemical that can help promote sleep.
  • Tart cherries. Their high level of dietary melatonin makes these sleep-friendly. In addition, tart cherries are high in antioxidants and their anti-inflammatory characteristics can help improve the quality of your sleep. “As a bonus,” Keeney notes, “tart cherry juice can also reduce muscle soreness and boost your immune system.”
  • Pineapple. These – along with apples, grapes and bananas – contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm. While Keeney says research into the effect of these choices on sleep isn’t as strong as the first two options, they are beneficial for the vitamins they contain, their fiber content and anti-inflammatory properties.

Keeney did note that diabetics should pair fruit with a protein to keep blood sugars stable and anyone with acid reflux might want to have their fruit earlier in the evening.

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Sleep-friendly choices

In addition to fruits, Keeney says other foods are associated with improved sleep:

“There are other lifestyle changes we can make to improve our sleep, including adding physical activity to each day, reducing alcohol intake and eliminating caffeine after a certain time of day. It can actually stay in our system for up to 10 hours after drinking it,” Keeney says.

For individualized nutrition advice and tools for meal and snack planning, consult a registered dietitian.