What color foods to eat to help you sleepWhat color foods to eat to help you sleep

Colorful Foods to Sleep Better

 September 4, 2019

By  Juli Kramer

Colorful foods treat different sleep problems. Learn about red and black foods that treat insomnia, yellow and orange foods that help your sleep throughout the night, and more!

You can’t fall asleep. You find yourself waking in the middle of the night, tossing and turning. The bathroom calls your name long before it’s time to wake up for the day, and you cannot fall back to sleep. Vivid dreams disturb your sleep or wake you and leave you feeling anxious.

All of these sleep problems, insomnia, wakefulness, trouble falling back to sleep, and vivid dreaming, have their roots in Yin and Yang imbalances in your body. Your internal organs are not functioning properly so Qi and Blood cannot flow smoothly. We explain the major problems occurring in your body in our article A Good Night’s Sleep Using Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In our second article in the series we write about Chinese Super Foods to Help You Sleep. Today we are writing about a super quick, fun way to think about what foods you need to eat beyond Chinese super foods.

What Color Should You Eat in Order to Sleep?

You will see below three of the most common Yin and Yang imbalances that lead to sleep problems and food recommendations for each. Let the food colors recommended serve as your guide and you’ll be adding delicious options to your diet. You can move from sub-optimal health to balance and wellness!

Sleep Problem #1: Difficulty falling asleep

Additional symptoms/factors: Shortness of breath, palpitations, 50 years or older

TCM Imbalance: Heart and Kidney Disharmony; Heart Fire

colorful foods

Black beans are just one example of black and red foods that help treat Heart and Kidney disharmony, and Heart Fire. Try not to eat raw foods, especially if you’re over 50.

Colors of Food to Eat: Red and black foods

Examples: Red and black beans; kidney beans, black sesame seeds, radishes, jujubes (Chinese dates), wolf berry or goji berry

colorful foods Black Soy Beans Black Rice colorful foods colorful foods

Additional Foods for this Imbalance: Goat cheese, bitter foods, bitter melon, squash

Foods to Avoid: Salty and fatty foods. Raw foods – make sure all fruits and vegetables are cooked, especially if over 50.

Sleep Problem #2: Falling asleep quickly but waking in the night. Vivid dreams that wake you.

Additional symptoms/factors: Problems with digestion, could be loose stools, irregular bowel movements, or constipation; may feel tired after eating or in the afternoon.

TCM Imbalance: Heart and Spleen Deficiency


Eating yellow and orange foods can improve digestion and bring balance between Heart and Spleen. Make sure to cook all foods. Raw food is hard to digest and create more problems.

Color of Food to Eat: Yellow and Orange foods that are sweet in nature

Examples: Carrots, corn, Job’s tears, longan fruit (dragon’s eyes), peaches, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tofu, yams, yellow squash

Fresh Fruit colorful foods colorful foods Jobs Tears

Additional Foods for this Imbalance: Congee (rice soup), jujubes (Chinese dates, even though red), meats (chicken, cow and pig tripe, fish), milk, non-glutinous rice, soup (chicken and fish)

Rice Soup colorful foods

Foods to Avoid: Bitter and sour foods. Raw foods – make sure all fruits and vegetables are cooked, especially if over 50.

Sleep Problem #3: Vivid dreams

Additional symptoms/factors: Dry eyes, floaters in the eyes, numbness of limbs if still for too long, dizziness, faintness after exertion, poor or blurred vision, and your eyes may ache from tiredness.

TCM Imbalance: Heart and Liver Deficiency

colorful foods

A wide variety of leafy greens will treat a Heart and Liver deficiency. Remember to always cook greens before eating them!

Color of Food to Eat: Green and lots of it!!! (Should always be cooked, never raw as in salads)

Examples: Any leafy green, basil, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, celery, Chinese (purple rimmed) spinach, collard and mustard greens, spinach, winter melon, zucchini squash

Master Green Collerd Green Winter Melon colorful foods

Additional Foods for this Imbalance: Foods that are bitter and sour in nature, limes

Foods to Avoid: Cheese, chilis (excessively spicy foods), cream, deep fried foods, eggs, ice cream, nuts, raw juices or salads, refined sugars, red meats. Raw foods – make sure all fruits and vegetables are cooked, especially if over 50.


Juli Kramer

Dr. Juli Kramer is a certified qigong instructor. She also holds a diploma in Chinese Medicine Nutritional Therapy and multiple certificates in Chinese medicine. As a qigong and meditation teacher, Dr. Kramer understands the important role movement and meditation have on developing a healthy body and mind. Juli also has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Counseling Psychology.

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