Natural Sources Of Melatonin That Will Help You Get Some Sleep

Getting a good night's sleep can do wonders for the body and mind. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) News in Health, good sleep can improve several functions, including brain performance, mood, and overall health. Also, a lack of sleep can put you at a higher risk of developing heart disease, obesity, dementia, and other conditions.


Unfortunately, not everybody gets as much rest as they should. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than one-third of adults in America don't get the recommended amount of sleep each night. If you're one of the people who struggle to get enough sleep, melatonin may help you reclaim the much-needed rest that eludes you.

Melatonin is a hormone that humans produce naturally to regulate the body's circadian rhythm and sleep cycles (via Cleveland Clinic). Supplementing your diet with melatonin can have several sleep-related benefits, as explained by The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. A review of studies in Nutrition Journal shows that melatonin may improve sleeping issues connected to jet lag, insomnia, and poor sleep quality.


How can you boost your intake of melatonin? Here are natural sources of melatonin to help you get some sleep, so you can face the day looking and feeling your best.

Tart cherries

Tart cherry juice is a natural aid that many people turn to when they want to fall asleep faster and get better quality rest when they are asleep. The Sleep Foundation shares that tart cherries, also called sour or Montmorency cherries, contain melatonin and tryptophan. The melatonin will help you make the transition into sleep, while tryptophan supports your body's own production of melatonin. The combination of the two may help you experience a more restful night and a rejuvenated morning.


A study published in the "European Journal of Nutrition" confirms that tart cherry juice does significantly increase levels of melatonin in the body, which can promote better sleep quality (via Springer Link). The study results also showed that the group who received the cherry juice spent more time in bed and had longer sleep durations than the placebo group.

Because tart cherries can have a sour flavor when eaten fresh, the best ways to consume them are frozen, dried, or juiced, according to Healthline. Just be sure to check the sugar content of tart cherry juice before pouring yourself a glass. Some brands can add a ton of sugar, which can actually have a negative effect on your sleep quality, according to the "American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine" (via National Library of Medicine).



Walnuts are powerhouse nuts that are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial nutrients, including melatonin. A study published in "Nutrition" shows that consuming walnuts can increase melatonin levels and antioxidant effects in the blood (via ScienceDirect). Boosting the melatonin in your body may help to promote better sleep when you find your sleep cycles are frequently disturbed or you can't quite transition into sleep (per the Sleep Foundation).


In addition to sleep-supporting melatonin, walnuts are excellent sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and magnesium, according to California Walnuts. It turns out that omega-3s may have beneficial effects on the pineal gland, which is responsible for melatonin production in the body (via Florida Health & Wellness Magazine). Research also shows that omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies have been linked to sleep problems and lower levels of melatonin (per Healthline).

Walnuts are a flavorful and versatile nut you can easily add to your diet. Popular ways to eat walnuts include enjoying them raw or roasted, in salads or desserts, or as a component in savory recipes.


Pistachios are the green seeds of the pistachio tree mostly grown in California, New Mexico, and Arizona (via WebMD). You'll recognize them for their slightly sweet flavor and hard outer shells that must be cracked and removed before eating them. If you're looking for a salty, crunchy snack before bed, pistachios may be the ideal choice to help you drift off into dreamland.


According to Healthline, a 2014 study found that shelled pistachios contained more melatonin than many melatonin supplements available on the market. These results suggest that eating pistachios can increase melatonin levels for a better sleep schedule and healthier sleep patterns. However, some scientists suggest that more studies are needed to confirm the melatonin content in pistachios. While there's no doubt that pistachios contain melatonin, the measurable amount is still up for debate until more data becomes available.

If you're reaching for pistachios before bed, you'll also get a healthy dose of vitamin B6 and other nutrients. Research in "Complementary Therapies in Medicine" shows that melatonin combined with vitamin B6 and other medicinal plants actually helped patients with mild-to-moderate insomnia achieve better sleep duration and fall asleep faster (via ScienceDirect).



Many types of mushrooms are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, including melatonin. As explained in an article in "European Food Research and Technology," melatonin levels in mushrooms can vary depending on exposure to sunlight and other environmental factors (via Springer Link). The research shows that mushrooms and plants that were exposed to adverse conditions actually produced more melatonin than those in ideal environments. Increased light exposure also led to more melatonin found in mushrooms and plants.


As an added bonus in addition to better sleep, mushrooms offer other health benefits, including a boost to the immune system and bone health, improved blood pressure, and a lowered risk of developing heart disease and diabetes (per Nourish by WebMD). They are also low in fat, sugar, and overall calories, which makes them a great choice if you're watching your weight.

If you're hoping to increase your melatonin levels, try adding mushrooms to some of your favorite dishes. They pair well with meat and chicken and can enhance the flavor of sauces or soups. Not a fan of mushrooms? Go for a mild-tasting variety, such as white button mushrooms, or consider a mushroom supplement.


While eggs are a great source of protein and other nutrients, they can also help with sleep as a natural source of melatonin. In fact, according to a study published in "Nutrients," eggs rank highest in melatonin content out of any animal product on the market (via National Library of Medicine). With this in mind, it may be worth scrambling up some eggs or working on your omelet-flipping technique before bed. According to Sauder's Eggs, the boost in melatonin from consuming eggs a couple of hours before bedtime can help you feel tired, fall asleep, and stay asleep all night.


Eggs also contain a good concentration of tryptophan, which you may recognize as the infamous element in turkey that makes you drowsy after Thanksgiving dinner. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the body uses to naturally produce melatonin (via Healthline). As a result of consuming tryptophan, your melatonin levels increase, which will help you get more rest with a solid sleep-wake cycle. Try incorporating eggs into your dinner for a good night's rest that will leave you feeling energized and ready to start your day.

Fatty fish

Salmon, sardines, and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids have relatively high concentrations of melatonin when compared to other animal foods (per "Nutrients" via National Library of Medicine). According to the Mayo Clinic, the melatonin found in fatty fish may aid in better sleep by treating disorders related to broken circadian rhythms and delayed sleep phases. Optimal levels of melatonin may assist with falling asleep faster and being more awake or alert during the day.


Fatty fish also contain omega-3s, which some research has shown to help with better sleep and melatonin levels. People who don't get adequate omega-3 fatty acids in their diet are more likely to experience sleep problems and lower levels of melatonin (per Healthline).

In addition, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that eating fish has positive effects on sleep and daily functioning due to high levels of vitamin D. The combination of melatonin, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D found in fatty fish make them an ideal meal if you're hoping to get more quality sleep at night.

Goji berries

If you haven't tried goji berries, you're missing out on a tasty superfood that has gained popularity for its many health benefits. Native to Asia and used for their medicinal properties for thousands of years in that region, today's health experts have found scientific evidence to support some of the goji berries' health-boosting properties (via Medical News Today).


One way goji berries can be beneficial to your health is by improving sleep quality. According to, goji berries contain the highest melatonin levels of any dried fruit, which can improve sleep duration and quality. Also, if you have trouble falling asleep, melatonin will help to reduce the time it takes for you to actually doze off.

To add goji berries to your diet and get the maximum sleep-inducing benefits, you can eat them on their own as a snack, add dried goji berries to trail mix, drink goji berry tea, or toss them into your favorite smoothie recipe. While you can purchase them at most health food stores, goji berries are becoming easier to find as demand continues to grow (via Maximize Market Research).



It turns out that drinking warm milk to help you sleep is more than just an old wives' tale. A study found in Clinical Nutrition Espen showed that hospital patients who drank warm milk with honey two times a day over the course of three days experienced noticeably better sleep. Other study results shared by the Sleep Foundation showed that drinking milk also helped to reduce waking up during sleep cycles and shorten the time it took to fall asleep.


According to the Sleep Foundation, milk contains melatonin and tryptophan, which helps your body naturally produce melatonin. When you have optimal levels of melatonin in your body, you're more likely to follow a natural circadian rhythm and sleep well during the night. Interestingly, data published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" shows that milk collected from cows at night contained higher concentrations of melatonin when compared to other samples collected during the day (via Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.). This "night milk" had sleep-inducing effects that were comparable to diazepam, which is a type of medical sedative (per WebMD).

If you do decide to try a glass of milk before bed, note any sensitivities you may have. Some people are unable to digest dairy as easily as others, which can lead to irritable bowel syndrome or other symptoms that may actually disrupt your sleep.



Cereals made with rice, corn, wheat, barley, and oats are proven to be good sources of melatonin, according to research in "Nutrients" (via National Library of Medicine). In particular, cereals containing certain types of rice provide a healthy serving of detectable melatonin, which can help you get the right amount of sleep you need at night. Whole black rice had the highest melatonin concentration compared to other types of rice. However wheat, barley, and oat cereals also provided melatonin.


It's important to point out that "cereals" refer to the edible component that is cultivated from grains. These grains are often consumed as breakfast food as a way to get balanced nutrition first thing in the morning. The healthiest choices of cereals will contain whole grains and limit added sugars that can disrupt sleep, according to the "American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine" (via National Library of Medicine).

When shopping for healthy cereals that could provide some benefits for sleep, look for ones that are made with whole wheat, barley, oats, corn, or rice, and are good sources of fiber and protein. Oatmeal, granola, Post Foods Grape Nuts, and shredded wheat cereals are just some options to consider when scanning the cereal aisle the next time you're at the grocery store (via Healthline). Skip the sugar-laden choices that are often advertised as "healthy" but are packed with high fructose corn syrup.


Red wine

Looking for a drink to pair with dinner or as a way to relax in the evenings? Red wine has withstood the test of time as one of the most popular go-to alcoholic beverages enjoyed around the world. Made through a fermentation process of dark-colored grape varieties, studies have shown that red wine does offer some health benefits when consumed in moderation, including a lowered risk of developing heart disease (per Healthline).


Another way red wine can impact your health is by supporting a better sleep-wake cycle. An article published by "Nutrition and Food Sciences" shared that Italian scientists found impressive levels of melatonin in grapes used to make some red wines (via Cabi). The melatonin was highest in the skin of dark grapes, including Nebbiolo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sangiovese. Lead researcher Iriti Marcello explained, "The melatonin content in wine could help regulate the circadian rhythm, just like the melatonin produced by the pineal gland in mammals."

More research found in "Molecules" notes that consuming wine or beer responsibly is an excellent way to naturally add melatonin to the diet (via MDPI). This boost in melatonin can help your body find a better sleep cycle in which you have longer periods of undisturbed sleep and less time tossing and turning (via Cleveland Clinic).


Extra virgin olive oil

Olive oil is a staple of any Mediterranean diet, which has been proven to lower the risk of some cancers, diabetes, and heart disease (via Forbes Health). Due to its high content of heart-healthy fats, olive oil can lower harmful cholesterol levels and provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as explained by Harvard Health Publishing. Extra virgin olive oil, in particular, may provide more health perks than other types of olive oils because it is not exposed to heat or chemicals during the pressing and processing stages.


Study results in "Food Chemistry" show that extra virgin olive oil has almost double the melatonin content as other refined oils (via Science Direct). The research found that melatonin was part of the phytochemical profile of olive oil, or the natural antioxidant power present in the oil's content. This suggests that adding extra virgin olive oil to your diet in place of other types of oils may help you get better quality sleep.

Olive oil can be used to make salad dressings, to roast or saute meats or vegetables, or to drizzle over finished dishes to add a pop of flavor. You can also try substituting extra virgin olive oil in recipes that call for butter or other types of vegetable oils.


Another delicious addition to your diet that may help you feel more rested after getting high-quality sleep is the tomato. Research on melatonin levels published in "Nutrients" found that tomatoes had higher levels of melatonin than other vegetables (via National Library of Medicine). 


How much melatonin the tomato contains will vary depending on the type of tomato and when it was harvested. A study published in "Food Chemistry" analyzed the melatonin content in tomatoes and found that melatonin levels were affected by exposure to direct sunlight (via Science Direct). When tomatoes were grown in shady conditions, melatonin concentrations increased by as much as 135% when compared to tomatoes exposed to more sun.

Overall, tomatoes offer several health benefits in addition to possibly helping you sleep better. According to Medical News Today, tomatoes are full of antioxidant power that can combat free radicals to prevent cancer, lower blood pressure with high levels of potassium, and boost gut health with fiber. Next time you make a salad, sandwich, or pasta sauce, think about adding some sliced or diced tomato to it to get all the advantages they offer.



Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are nutrient-packed legumes that are an excellent source of protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, and beneficial antioxidants (per Cleveland Clinic). They are also particularly high in tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that the body cannot produce on its own. This is why it's important to consume foods that have complete proteins that contain tryptophan in order to support bodily functions that this essential amino acid helps to regulate.


As explained by the Sleep Foundation, the body uses tryptophan to produce melatonin — the sleep hormone that regulates sleep/wake cycles. In an interview with Men's Health, Andrew McHill, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, explains, "Chickpeas contain the amino acid tryptophan, which gets turned into serotonin and converted into melatonin."

By increasing melatonin levels, chickpeas may be a great choice before bedtime to help you fall asleep quicker and get better rest while you're sleeping (via Mayo Clinic). Reach for a handful of roasted chickpeas or dip some pita bread into hummus for a satisfying snack that may offer sleep-inducing properties.



Yogurt is another food that may help your body naturally produce melatonin and find a better sleep rhythm. Due to its high tryptophan content, it may be the ideal bedtime snack to combat the symptoms of insomnia (via Tryptophan is crucial to the production of both serotonin and melatonin, which promote relaxation and sleepiness. Melatonin specifically aids in better sleep quality and more regulated sleep-wake cycles (per Cleveland Clinic).


However, it's important that you choose your yogurt carefully. While yogurt is generally high in nutrients like calcium, protein, and vitamins, some varieties are loaded with added sugar and artificial flavoring that may cancel out the effects of tryptophan, according to Excessive sugar consumption and high glucose levels can disrupt sleep or make you experience poor sleep quality while you are asleep (via Sleep Foundation). Your best bet is to choose plain yogurt or low-sugar options to get the most out of the tryptophan content in yogurt.