Stop me if you’ve been here before: you wake up in the middle of the night, wide awake, knowing you need to get back to sleep so you can have a productive day tomorrow. You don’t have many options — drink some water, put on some white noise, or maybe…if you’re really desperate…take a melatonin.
But you know what happens when you pop a melatonin. You may get back to sleep, yes, but you’ll probably wake up groggy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with melatonin — your body produces it naturally, and it’s an important factor in achieving REM cycles. There’s just something about taking them that leaves you in a daze the next day.
According to scientists, a big reason many people supplement melatonin in modern society is because we suffer a decrease in the neurohormone due to the blue light from our computers. The blue light from the monitors abuses our eyes all day, leading to a change in circadian rhythm that isn’t as simple as a quick-pill-fix.
The solution is to tweak the diet if you can; not pop another pill (even if it is a naturally-occurring pill like melatonin). If you can start consuming more foods that naturally contain and promote the vitamins, minerals, and hormones we need to thrive, your body will thank you. Why? Because the body always prefers bioavailability over supplementation.
These 4 foods help the body naturally produce more melatonin, as long as you stay consistent
If you’re interested in melatonin for improved sleep, but don’t love the way pills make you feel in the morning, try these four foods in the evening for a natural dose.
Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds and pistachios are all good after dinner snacks if melatonin is important. Check out this 2022 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis that outlines the various nuts in more detail.
Eating salmon three times per week for five months was associated with a positive impact on sleep and daily functioning in a small 2014 randomized trial published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Eggs are a staple of my diet, and should be in yours, too. They offer numerous health benefits, a hearty 6g of protein per serving, and the most naturally-occurring melatonin of any animal product to boot. (Cow’s milk is another good source of the neurohormone, as well.)
Lastly, take a swig of tart cherry juice — it can also help with antioxidants and even flush a kidney stone if needed. But as for daily supplementation, it’s definitely worth a few sips.