IT’S NEVER FUN to have trouble sleeping. Whether you suffer from chronic insomnia or only toss and turn once in a while, there are some things you can do to try to ease the suffering of a sleepless night. It turns out that your stomach may be a bit of a gatekeeper to the Land of Nod: Feed it well, and you’ll be rewarded with a lovely, drowsy feeling. Feed it poorly, and you could be in for a very bumpy night.
5 Foods that Act as Natural Sleep Aids
While no food is guaranteed to knock you out cold, there are several that do promote relaxation and sleepiness — which could be just the gentle push you need to drop off more quickly at night.
- Turkey: It’s no secret that Thanksgiving turkey’s tryptophan can knock out your whole family by halftime. Harness the power of this natural sleep-inducer by having a warm turkey sandwich before bed — carbs help the brain access all that tryptophan, so the bread is an important ingredient.
- Warm Milk: Turkey’s not the only food with tryptophan: All proteins are good choices, especially when combined with carbs. Milk has an extra edge, too. In addition to the high protein content, the calcium can boost your body’s production of melatonin, a major sleep hormone.
- Cherries: Speaking of melatonin, it’s one of the most useful natural sleep remedies out there. Cherries contain naturally high levels of melatonin, and studies have shown that eating cherries or drinking cherry juice before bed can help regulate your sleep patterns.
- Chamomile: These tiny, daisy-like flowers have been used for thousands of years to help relieve anxiety and get people to sleep. It’s easy find them in the grocery store in the herbal tea section — just enjoy a hot glass with a bit of honey about an hour before bed to ease into slumber.
- Salad: It turns out that lettuce might help you settle down, too, thanks to its high concentrations of lactucarium, a substance that affects the brain kind of like opium. Some people even make a tea out of lettuce leaves to concentrate the effects.
4 Ingredients that Interfere With Sleeping
Once you’ve gone to the trouble to stock your fridge with these natural sleep aids, don’t un-do their effects with known sleep-busters. Take steps to avoid these foods from dinnertime onwards:
- Caffeine: Avoiding coffee before bed is a no-brainer, but don’t forget that the stimulant is also found in black tea, chocolate and many carbonated beverages. Steer clear of them all in the hours before bedtime.
- Alcohol: Though alcohol is a depressant that will make you feel drowsy, it reduces REM sleep and disturbs your natural sleep patterns, destroying the overall quality of your rest.
- Nicotine: Though not exactly a food, many people ingest nicotine with a nightly cigarette. Though it may seem relaxing to smoke, nicotine is also a stimulant that will keep you up at night — just one more reason to kick this harmful habit.
- Capsaicin: Hot peppers and other spicy foods contain high levels of capsaicin, which can raise your body temperature and disrupt your sleep. It’s best to avoid anything that can give you heartburn or indigestion, which will keep you up at night in discomfort as well.
Now that you know what foods to keep around for a good night’s sleep, enjoy that healthy bedtime snack to help catch some Zzzs tonight!