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5 Foods That Will Help You Snooze

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5 Foods That Will Help You Snooze

It has been a sleepless several nights for me, mainly because of troubling events. But it made me start thinking about food, and how it’s intimately connected to our patterns of sleep. If you can’t sleep, and life is calm and happy, maybe it’s something you ate–or didn’t. The foods we eat can dramatically affect how much, and how well, we snooze. Some calm and relax, some wake up the nervous system, and some just downright wire you for the night.

What you should eat for deeper sleep depends partly on your patterns. If you toss and turn before drifting off but then doze soundly for the rest of the night, you might benefit from adding slow-burning carbs (beans, sweet potatoes, berries) to your evening meal to prompt the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes calm. If you zonk out quickly but wake up a few hours later, you might be suffering from blood sugar fluctuations. I’ve tried a high-protein snack before bed–a handful of walnuts, a spoonful of almond butter, a small cube of cheese–and these tend to keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the night.

Focus on foods with soothing nutrients, like magnesium, which helps relax muscles and calms the body and B vitamins, key in the production of serotonin and other brain chemicals key to sleep. Trytophan, an amino acid that’s needed to make sleep-inducing serotonin, is especially effective when it’s paired with complex, slow-burning carbs.

And banish foods that stimulate the body and disrupt sleep. Click on the next page to find the worst sleep saboteurs.

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Read more: Blogs, Diet & Nutrition, Health, Inspired Eating, Natural Remedies

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Lisa Turner

Lisa is a chef and nutritionist with more than 30 years of professional experience and formal training in food, nutrition and product development. She’s written five books on food and nutrition and is the creator of The Healthy Gourmet iPhone app, and has been a featured blogger for many national sites, including Huffington Post and Whole Foods Market. Lisa is a faculty instructor at Bauman College of Culinary Arts and also teaches food and nutrition classes and workshops to individuals and corporations. She's a black belt in Ninjutsu, an active volunteer in the Boulder Valley school lunch system, and an avid wild food forager.

586 comments

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3:28PM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

Thanks

5:29AM PDT on May 23, 2011

thanks much!

8:14AM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep, will try some of these snacks!

1:50AM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

deep sleep...

7:17PM PDT on Apr 11, 2011

Thanks for tips, will give them a try.

4:37AM PST on Jan 23, 2011

thanks! for me its also stress that bothers me but that's no food

7:51PM PST on Jan 11, 2011

Unbuttered and unsalted popcorn works miracles in the sleep department for me. Eating several handsful just before bedtime will almost always ensure a sound, peaceful night's sleep. Might as well give it a try. Chances are it will work for you too. Remember, NO SALT OR BUTTER.

11:10AM PDT on Sep 21, 2010

thanks !

2:26AM PDT on Sep 5, 2010

Teresa Medlin.. Yes! I Am another advocate of oatmeal. If I feel hungry before bed, this is my usual bedtime snack. I know that people have been told that you shouldn't eat before bed, but if I didn't eat for a few hours before bed, I would NEVER sleep, because I would be hungry! Mind you, I am a very active person and very slim and so, I think my metabolic rate is too fast to not keep my body fairly regularly stoked!
Thanks Lisa for this post, as I will try some other ideas, which may make a welcome change from... PORRIDGE!

4:49PM PDT on Aug 28, 2010

gonna be hard to go for the turkey/lettuce rollup instead of the chocolate right before bed...

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people are talking

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Thank you for sharing.

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