Let’s be honest: Carbs always get a bad rap. Many of them are filled with unnecessary calories and are usually avoided when you’re trying to watch your weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. That’s why you may be surprised to hear that not all carbs are bad, and there’s one carb dietitians recommend to help you sleep better—so you may want to keep it on your shopping list!

The #1 best carb to help you sleep better is the potato.

sweet potatoessweet potatoes

Potatoes are our friends, especially when it comes to restful shuteye. The Nutrition Twins®, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT, members of our Medical Expert Board, tell us, “The best ‘bad’ carb for sleep [is the potato]; ideally sweet potatoes which are more nutritious because of their high vitamin A content and lower glycemic index. Potatoes are complex carbs, so unlike refined grains and sugary sweets that cause a spike and crash in blood sugar and interfere with sleep (when blood sugar dips too low, it can disturb sleep by waking you up), potatoes keep blood sugar more stable, helping you to sleep better.”

Not only are sweet potatoes delicious, but they’re also chock-full of potassium and B6, which can really make a difference in your sleep. “[Potatoes] help the body to make the body’s feel good and relaxation chemical, serotonin, which plays a role in the quality of your sleep. B6 also helps to produce the body’s sleep hormone, melatonin. Plus, they’re rich in magnesium, which is needed to help the body and the brain relax and sleep more soundly.”

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Potatoes also increase GABA, a neurotransmitter that communicates messages through your nervous system. This ultimately is helpful when it comes time to unwind and achieve better sleep.

“Lastly, potatoes are a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, which makes you feel good by also increasing serotonin, like B6 and potassium, while also triggering melatonin, so you feel tired and can fall asleep more easily.” The Nutrition Twins add.

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The Best Foods For a Good Night’s Rest, According to Experts

What time should you eat potatoes for better sleep?

roasted sweet potatoesroasted sweet potatoes

The sweet potato time of day is about three hours before you head to sleep. Dinner time makes sense, as it will provide sufficient time for you to digest your food and for the “sleep-promoting” potato nutrients to work their magic.

The Nutrition Twins warn, “Without enough time to digest, it could disrupt your sleep. If you are hungry closer to bedtime, have a smaller portion—limit it to about ½ of a small potato, and more than an hour before bed.”

They suggest enjoying some protein with your sweet potato to achieve a stable blood sugar level. Consider savoring sweet potato with fish or chicken and veggies, top it off with kidney beans or black beans, or add some Greek yogurt or low-fat ricotta cheese and a dash of cinnamon for a savory nighttime snack.

Alexa Mellardo

Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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