Chinese super foods for better sleepChinese super foods for better sleep

Unlocking Deep Sleep: Your Guide to Chinese Superfoods

 April 22, 2024

By  Juli Kramer

Unlocking Deep Sleep: Your Guide to Chinese Superfoods. Are restless nights leaving you weary? Chinese medicine offers a holistic approach to reclaiming your restful slumber. Dive into the world of Chinese superfoods, carefully curated to rebalance your body and invite the sweet embrace of deep sleep.

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Chinese medicine thinks about sleep problems holistically. Eating Chinese super foods are one holistic strategy that helps treat everything from insomnia, to dream-disturbed sleep, to waking in the middle of the night.

Why Superfoods Matter

Sleep disturbances are often rooted in bodily imbalances, according to Chinese medicine. By harnessing the power of Chinese superfoods, you can address these imbalances and pave the way for rejuvenating sleep, boundless energy, and a brighter mood.

Quick Summary Chart

In a rush? Check out our handy chart below for a snapshot of which Chinese superfoods can tackle specific sleep woes.

Chinese Superfoods: Your Sleep Saviors

Explore a selection of Chinese superfoods tailored to tackle various sleep issues head-on, from insomnia to restless nights. Each superfood comes with preparation tips and cautionary notes to ensure safe and effective use.

NOTE: This information is only a guide and not meant to prescribe or make recommendations for you. The premise is that you can use this information to talk with a TCM doctor about what might be happening in your situation in a meaningful way. It is also designed to help you start thinking about your body differently so you can move towards optimal health.

Please read the Contraindications for each food carefully.

Which Chinese super foods should you eat for specific sleep problems?

The chart below provides a quick summary of which Chinese super foods help with different sleep problems, such as insomnia, vivid dreams, and waking to go to the bathroom. You can read about each specific food in more detail after the chart.

lotus seeds


Chinese Yam

Combat night sweats and nocturnal bathroom trips with this versatile root vegetable. Steam or stir-fry for a delicious addition to your bedtime routine.

Chinese yam super food to sleep better


Sleep problems treated with Chinese yams

  • Night Sweats
  • Waking in the night to go to the bathroom

How to Prepare

  • Steam: Wash the fresh yam and then peel. They are super slippery! Holding half of the yam with a paper towel when peeling helps you have a better grip. Steam the yams until they are tender and easy to mash. You may mash with steamed lotus bulb as well.
  • Stir-fry: Fry with pre-cooked rice until the Chinese yam turns bright yellow.
  • Contraindications: Do not eat when you have indigestion, feel bloated, have a poor appetite, or your tongue has a thick, greasy coating. Do not eat raw, in order to avoid food poisoning caused by poor handling.

Gluey millet to sleep better

Bid farewell to insomnia and restless tossing with this comforting grain. Cook it like rice or whip up a soothing porridge for a restful night's sleep.

lotus seeds

Sleep problems treated with gluey millet

  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Wakefulness
  • Difficulty falling back to sleep
  • Vivid dreams
  • Hyposomnia

How to Prepare

  • Cooked like rice: Place 1 cup of millet in a small to medium saucepan. Add 2 cups boiling veggie stock or water to the millet. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff immediately with a fork.
  • Cooked like porridge: Bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil. Add millet and stir. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally. Make sure there is enough water to make a soupy porridge, adding more if needed. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Contraindications

  • Eat no more than ¼ cup of dried millet each day. Children who do not have a strong appetite, should not eat millet often.

Jujubes Chinese super food

Say goodbye to sleepless nights with the help of these sweet delights. Whether sipped as an elixir or savored in a steaming bowl of rice, jujubes pave the way to tranquil slumber.

Jujube or Chinese dates for better sleep

Jujube fruit (Chinese Dates)

Sleep problems treated with jujubes

  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking in the middle of the night
  • Difficulty falling back to sleep
  • Vivid dreams

How to prepare

  • Elixir: Wash and chop 5 dried jujubes. Boil in 2 cups of water for approximately 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then drink the water.
  • Fresh or dried: Eat five to ten jujubes daily, two to three hours before bed. If eating fresh jujubes, be sure to wash thoroughly. You may also boil in 2 cups water for 20 minutes before eating.
  • Cooked with Rice: Put 2 cups water, 6 dried jujubes, ½ cup rice, and 2 tbsp dried longan fruit in a pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes. Eat one bowl twice daily.
  • Jujube Cake Recipe: A delicious steamed cake recipe.

Contraindications

  • Do not eat jujubes if you have phlegm or indigestion that decreases your appetite.

Lily bulb

Tackle insomnia and night sweats head-on with this delicate bulb. From soups to stir-fries, lily bulb adds a touch of tranquility to your bedtime routine.

lotus seeds

Sleep problems treated with lily bulb

  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Wakefulness
  • Night sweats

How to prepare

  • Soup: Boil 2 cups of water with ¼ cup mung beans. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Add ½ cup dried lily bulb and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • Stir-fry: Wash and dry fresh lily bulb. Separate sections. Stir-fry with celery or black fungus for three minutes.
  • Add to millet or oatmeal: Rinse 1/4 cup dried lily bulb and add to millet or oatmeal while it is cooking.

Contraindication

  • Do not eat if you have a cough or stomach problem combined with diarrhea.

Lotus seed Chinese super food

Drift off to dreamland with the aid of these nutritious seeds. Whether enjoyed raw or simmered into a comforting tea, lotus seeds are your ticket to uninterrupted sleep.

lotus seeds

Dried Lotus Seeds

Sleep problems treated with lotus seed

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty falling back to sleep
  • Vivid dreams
  • Waking in the night to go to the bathroom

How to prepare

  • Raw: Wonderful to eat fresh in the summer as a raw fruit.
  • Porridge: You will most often find lotus seeds in dried form. You can add them to oatmeal, soups, and other porridge-like dishes. For traditional, long-cooking oatmeal and porridge: Add 10 lotus seeds to boiling water when you add your grains. Make sure the grain takes at least 20 minutes to cook. For instant grains, boil 10 lotus seeds in hot water for 20 minutes. Add to cereal.
  • Soup: Add 10 lotus seeds when making stock. If reheating soup, make sure the lotus seeds boil for at least 20 minutes. You may choose to boil them in water ahead of time.
  • Tea: Add 10 lotus seeds, 5 jujubes, and 7 wolfberries (goji berries) to 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drink the liquid as a tea. You can also eat the lotus seeds, jujubes, and wolfberries on their own or add to soup or porridge.

Contraindication

  • Do not eat if you have a bloated stomach or constipation.

Rosebuds to help you sleep

Harness the calming essence of rosebuds to soothe your restless mind. Sip on a fragrant cup of rosebud tea or incorporate them into your favorite desserts for a serene night's sleep.

Dried rosebuds are pungent and help clear qi stagnation

Sleep problems treated with rosebuds

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Wakefulness
  • Difficulty falling back to sleep
  • Vivid dreams
  • Restlessness caused by derangement of stomach qi
  • Hyposomnia

How to prepare

  • Tea: Combine 2-3 tsp. rose buds with 1 ½ cups water and let steep for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before drinking. You may find rose bud tea bags for sale if you cannot find dried rose buds.
  • Desserts: Rose buds are sweet and can be added to desserts or sweet soups. Soak the dried rose buds first to allow them to soften and open up. Add rose buds to the dessert before cooking (for example add to boiling water for sweet rice pudding or to the dough when making coconut sugar muffins).

Contraindications

  • None

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Goji berries Chinese super food

Banish sleep woes with the vibrant energy of goji berries. Steam them or steep into a comforting tea to lull yourself into a state of peaceful slumber.

lotus seeds

Sleep problems treated with goji berries
(known in China a wolfberries)

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Wakefulness
  • Difficulty falling back to sleep

How to prepare

  • Steam: Steam the wolfberries and then stir-fry with mixed vegetables. You can also garnish steamed wolfberries to soups and desserts.
  • Tea: Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add 7-10 wolfberries. Allow to simmer until the wolfberries are tender, about 5 minutes. Drink the tea and eat the berries.
  • Porridge: Mix 1 tablespoon wolfberries and 1/2 cup uncooked glutinous rice (or 1/2 cup uncooked steel cut oats), with 1 3/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add a bit of honey once the mixture has cooled to warm. You may also add 5 jujubes when cooking.

Contraindications

  • If you suffer from diarrhea or tend to have mucus in your throat and nose, you should use wolfberries with care.

Dive deeper into the wisdom of Chinese medicine with these insightful references:

Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, 3rd Ed.

Zhang, Y. & Yao, Y. (2012) Your Guide to Health with Foods & Herbs: Using the Wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Unlock the Secret to Sound Sleep

Embrace the transformative power of Chinese superfoods and bid farewell to sleepless nights. With a holistic approach to wellness, you can reclaim your nights and awaken to brighter, more energized days.

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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