Top 10 tryptophan rich foods to support sleep

Jacqueline Alwill

Brown Paper Nutrition

Thinking about what you CAN EAT to support your sleep and mood? Tryptophan is my go to nutrient for sleep. It’s an amino acid (remember, amino acids are the building blocks for protein), and precursor for the production of both:

  • Serotonin which influences mood, cognition and,
  • Melatonin which is the most famous hormone for sleep as it governs our sleep wake-cycle

I could write a book on the foods and recipes to support sleep but for now, let’s make it actionable and therefore achievable by understanding the foods richest in tryptophan to include in your diet, and some great ideas and recipes to get your dietary hit of tryptophan too.

Foods richest in tryptophan include:
+ Salmon
+ Tinned tuna
+ Skinless turkey
+ Skinless chicken
+ Milk
+ Cheddar
+ Peanuts
+ Oats
+ Dried prunes
+ Banana

It’s easy enough looking at this list to find a food you love and ensure it’s a regular player in your diet but if needed more inspiration, then consider these…

Tryptophan rich meal and recipe ideas to support sleep, cognition and mood:



  • Tinned tuna again – SO EASY – for lunches and snacks. As with all tinned foods aim for the best quality you can afford, looking out for BPA free tins.
  • If you are having tuna in your lunch meal try to increase protein intake alongside it with quinoa, cottage cheese or some tinned, rinsed and drained legumes too.


  • Turkey burgers
  • Turkey skillet one pan with eggs
  • Turkey burgers



  • I recommend an a1 protein FREE milk to most clients. It’s more easily digested and contains valuable health benefits including protein, calcium and tryptophan.
  • Enjoy milk in smoothies, make custard (without tonnes of sugar of course), bake oatmeal or get in porridge season early!


  • If you feel like your piece of fruit in the afternoon isn’t tying you over to dinner then adding a few slices of cheddar is a great way to increase the protein alongside your fruit to stabilise blood sugar levels and appetite. It’s also a wonderful way to improve calcium and tryptophan intake.




  • Great for tryptophan, fibre, iron and constipation! Get those bowels working, get that sleep priming, so many great things in one shrivelled up plum.


  • Snack on one , add a spread of peanut butter and BINGO! Two for one tryptophan snack deal.
  • Freeze and add to smoothies
  • Add a popsicle stick to the middle of one and freeze for an easy banana ice cream loved by all.
  • Try my PINEAPPLE COCONUT CREPES made with banana egg and vanilla and pineapple on top – too simple and delicious to be true!
  • Wholesome blueberry banana bread