Is the caffeine you drank at 10pm keeping you up at night? Are you tossing and turning to the tune of the presentation you have to give tomorrow? Whatever the reason, not being able to sleep sucks. But instead of reaching for your secret stash of Ambien for the fourth night in a row, try paying more attention to what you eat before bedtime.
The trick is to eat foods that contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that synthesizes protein in the body. Tryptophan helps raise serotonin levels, which ultimately help regulate sleep patterns and promote relaxation, restfulness, and sleep. Here are 5 foods that will help you catch up on those much needed Zzz’s.
Not only are bananas a good source of tryptophan, but they also contain potassium (a great life lesson from Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves) and magnesium, which are natural muscle relaxants.
Milk contains high levels of tryptophan and the calcium also helps promote sleep. Plus, there’s nothing more soothing than sipping on a warm drink and sleeping like a baby.
Oats are naturally rich in melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate the body’s sleep cycle. Oatmeal also triggers a rise in blood sugar, which promotes insulin production and clears the bloodstream of amino acids that compete with tryptophan. For the ultimate bedtime snack, make a bowl of oatmeal with warm milk and sliced bananas.
Whole Grain Bread
Like oatmeal, the carbs in whole grain bread stimulate the release of insulin and clear the pathway for tryptophan to reach your brain to tell your body to fall asleep. For best sleeping results, pair a piece of toast with a tryptophan-rich food (turkey, eggs, swiss cheese, cottage cheese). Whole grains also contain vitamin B which helps tryptophan convert to serotonin.
Peanuts, as well as other nuts, are a rich source of niacin, a nutrient that helps enhance the release of serotonin in the body. Spread some peanut butter on a piece of whole grain toast or pair it with a sliced banana.
You should allow yourself at least an hour before bedtime to digest (so no bowls of oatmeal in bed). Avoid caffeine, spicy foods, heavy meals and alcohol in the few hours before you sleep as well. And if you want to stay away from nighttime gas pains, steer clear of apples, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, legumes, lentils, split peas and green peppers. Sweet dreams!