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Can Certain Foods Help You Get to Sleep?



We all have trouble falling asleep from time to time. So wouldn’t it be nice if having a snack could help you fall asleep? It’d certainly be more fun than tossing and turning, and you’d risk fewer side effects than taking a habit-forming sleep medication. Fortunately, there actually are some foods that can help you get to sleep – check out the following information about them.

First things first. If you’re experiencing repeated incidences of insomnia, if you frequently wake up feeling tired or if you often snore and disturb your partner, you need to see your health care provider. Having trouble sleeping can be a sign of a medical problem that should be ruled out as quickly as possible. Waking up feeling tired and snoring, for example, are common symptoms of sleep apnea, which can cause a number of serious conditions, including high blood pressure. For occasional sleep problems, snacking on the right foods can help, although regular problems need to be addressed by your doctor. Got it?

Every day, our bodies produce and use a chemic neurotransmitter called serotonin. If you have enough of this chemical, your sleep is generally deeper and more restful. You can help increase the level of serotonin in your body by eating foods rich in tryptophan. In the body, tryptophan is converted into L-tryptophan, which helps the body produce serotonin.

Foods that are rich in tryptophan are also usually high in protein. These include milk, cheese, nuts, eggs, soybeans, brown rice, seafood and lean meats, like turkey. You may think that turkey is high in tryptophan, since many people find themselves sleepy after holiday meals that include turkey. However, while turkey does contain as much tryptophan as most other lean meats, it’s more likely the other foods you consume along with the holiday meal, along with the amount of food and the release of stress once the meal is finished, that account for the additional sleepiness. Incidentally, foods rich in tryptophan can also help people who suffer from depression.

Foods rich in carbohydrates can also help you feel sleepy. These include foods like pasta, potatoes, fruits and vegetables.

With this in mind, some examples of snacks that could help you fall asleep include a turkey sandwich with mayonnaise and cheese on whole wheat bread served with a glass of milk. You could also try a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk and a piece of fruit. Another good snack would be whole wheat crackers, cheese, dried fruit and a cup of herbal tea – just make sure it’s decaffeinated! Baked potatoes topped with sour cream and cheese can also make a good late snack for encouraging sleeping, while some herbal teas, such as chamomile, are especially soothing.

Whatever food you choose, it’s a good idea not to try to go to bed on a full stomach. It takes between two to four hours for your body to fully digest your food, so plan your dinner time accordingly. In addition, it takes your body about 90 minutes to process liquids – this means that if you want to sleep through the night without having to get up to hit the bathroom, stop drinking fluids about 90 minutes before you go to bed.

And another important note – although you may get drowsy when you drink alcohol, the effect wears off fairly quickly, leaving you restless and awake. You should also avoid foods and beverages containing caffeine – a powerful stimulant that will have you up well past your bedtime if you indulge too late in the evening.