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A Protein-Rich Dinner for Sleep and Recovery

Sleep Number

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Try this nutrient-packed fish dinner with foods to help you sleep: cod for tryptophan, pistachios for melatonin and beets for a performance boost. It's delicious, filling, and perfect any night of the week.


If you're looking for simple ways to get a better night's sleep, there are plenty of expert-backed tips to try: Cut out afternoon caffeine, power down your screens one hour before bedtime and keep your bedroom at the perfect sleep temperature of 65-67 degrees.


INTERESTING FACT: Sleep Number® smart bed sleepers who drink caffeine in the evening are less restful and have higher average heart rates and average breathing rates than those who don't.* Further incentive to try to reduce caffeine after noon. But if you want to take your z's to the next level, have you considered looking at what you eat? Certain foods are known to help and not hinder your sleep.


Take dinner, for example: Choose a tryptophan-rich protein as the star of your dinner plate. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in several protein-rich foods, including turkey, cheese, soybeans, seeds and cod. After eating, your body converts tryptophan to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood, and then into melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep cycles.


Because getting adequate melatonin is so important to high-quality sleep, melatonin-rich foods are another great choice. According to a 2017 literature review published in Nutrients, nuts are a good source of melatonin, and pistachios have the highest concentration of all nuts. Bonus: The authors found that eating foods rich in melatonin was good not only for sleep quality, but also for overall health and immunity.


Finally, why not make the most of your time asleep and include a performance-boosting food in your dinner? In a 2018 literature review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the authors found that drinking beet juice was associated with better athletic performance and recovery. While whole beets don't have quite as high a concentration of key nutrients as beet juice, it's still likely they would offer some benefits.


To help take the guesswork out of what to eat before bed, we created this tasty, nutrient-packed fish dinner. It has cod and pistachio to help you sleep, and sweet roasted beets to help boost performance.


Baked Cod with Pistachio Pesto and Roasted Beet Salad

Serves 4

Total time: 1 hour



  • 2 large red beets, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces**

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 cup uncooked farro

  • 1 clove garlic

  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves

  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, plus extra parsley stems

  • ½ cup roasted pistachio kernels

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 pound cod, cut in 4 4-ounce filet.


**Raw beet juice can stain your hands and clothes. To avoid this, wear an apron and latex or rubber gloves while you peel and cut the beets. If you don't have gloves, it's OK—any juice stains on your hands will wash off in a day or two.


  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. On the sheet pan, toss the beets, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread everything in an even layer and roast 45 minutes, until beets are tender.

  2. Rinse the farro under cold water. In a small pot, combine the farro, 2 cups water and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook 30 minutes until the farro is soft and the liquid is absorbed.

  3. Mince the garlic, finely chop the mint and parsley leaves, and coarsely chop the pistachios. Combine everything in a small bowl with the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Stir everything together. Salt to taste.

  4. In the final 10 minutes of cooking the beets, bake the cod. Season each filet with salt and pepper on all sides. Place the filets in a large oven-safe skillet or on a sheet pan. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Lay a handful of parsley stems on top of the filets. (10-12 stems is perfect, but you can use as many as you like.) Bake in the 400-degree oven for 8-10 minutes, until cooked through.

  5. To serve, toss the roasted beets with the farro and portion the mixture onto four plates. Divide the cod among the four plates and top each fillet with a heaping spoonful of pistachio pesto.

Nutrition per serving: 593 calories, 29 g fat (4 g saturated), 191 mg sodium, 55 g carbs, 11 g sugar, 9 g fiber, 33 g protein

Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal wellbeing and performance. Because everyone's sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® smart beds sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep.


*Based on SleepIQ® data from 1/1/19 to 1/1/20 and self-reported responses of sleepers using SleepIQ® technology from 5/12/19 – 1/5/20.

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