If you could pick the right foods to help you get the best sleep possible, wouldn’t you? And if you knew which foods would hinder your restful slumber, wouldn’t you avoid them? Now’s your chance to learn which foods to eat, and which to steer clear of for a good night’s sleep.
Reach for Tryptophan-Rich Foods
We’ve all heard of warm milk’s magical ability to send us off to dreamland. Do you know why it’s true? Dairy foods contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Other tryptophan-containing foods include poultry, bananas, oats, and honey.
Indulge Your Craving for Carbs
Carbohydrate-rich foods complement dairy foods by increasing the level of sleep-inducing tryptophan in the blood. So a few perfect late night snacks to get you snoozing might include a bowl of cereal and milk, yogurt and crackers, or bread and cheese. Avoid an all-carb snack that’s also high in sugar, since the sugar low that will follow may disturb your sleep.
Have a Snack Before Bedtime
If you struggle with insomnia, a little food in your stomach may help you sleep. But don’t use this as an open invitation to pig out. Keep the snack small. A heavy meal will tax your digestive system, making you uncomfortable and unable to get soothing ZZZs.
Put Down the Burger and Fries!
As if you needed another reason to avoid high-fat foods, research now shows that the more fat you consume during the day, the less likely you will be to have a restful night.
Beware of Hidden Caffeine
It’s no surprise that an evening cup of coffee might disrupt your sleep. Even moderate caffeine can cause sleep disturbances. But don’t forget about less obvious caffeine sources, like chocolate, cola, tea and decaffeinated coffee. For better sleep, cut all caffeine from your diet after noon each day.
Medications May Contain Caffeine
Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs contain caffeine, too, such as pain relievers, weight loss pills, diuretics, and cold medicines. These and other medications may have as much or even more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Check the label of nonprescription drugs or the prescription drug information sheet to see if your medicine interferes with sleep or can cause insomnia.
Skip the Nightcap
Here’s the catch-22 with alcohol: It may help you fall asleep faster, but you may experience frequent awakenings, less restful sleep, headaches, night sweats and nightmares. If you’re consuming alcohol in the evening, balance each drink with a glass a water to dilute the alcohol’s effects.
Beware of Heavy, Spicy Foods
Lying down with a full belly can make you uncomfortable, since the digestive system slows down when you sleep. And spicy cuisine can lead to heartburn or GERD. Make sure to finish a heavy meal at least four hours before bedtime.
Keep Protein to a Minimum at Bedtime
Sorry Atkins. Protein, an essential part of our daytime fare, is a poor choice for a bedtime snack. Protein-rich foods are harder to digest. So skip the high-protein snack before bedtime and opt for a glass of warm milk or some sleep-friendly carbs, like crackers.
Cut the Fluids by 8 P.M.
Yes, staying hydrated throughout the day is great for your body, but curtail your fluid intake before bed. You’re sure to have interrupted sleep if you’re constantly getting up to go to the bathroom.
Don’t Be Fooled by a Relaxing Smoke
Nicotine is a stimulant, with effects similar to caffeine. Avoid smoking before bedtime or if you wake up in the middle of the night.
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