Eating for Slumber: Food to Help You Sleep Better

Have you ever tossed and turned from late evening till early morning, wondering when sleep would come? Have you ever simply stared at the ceiling, wondering why you were still awake? Have you ever wondered if you should have taken medications, or if there is food to help sleep come easier and better to you?

Insomnia is a problem many people face, but it is not incurable. This sleep disorder can be caused by anxiety, depression, fear, or physiological aspects that may appear to make the insomnia occur for no reason at all. Although confused with insomnia, the inability to sleep undisturbed is a similar condition, but it is associated with the inability of the brain to take the body to the deepest level of sleep.

There are different medications that can ease or remove insomnia, and they are prescribed according to the underlying cause. If you are uncomfortable with medication, however, there are other equally if not more successful techniques to help you sleep, as well as to keep you sleeping comfortably. Based on research, and supported by anecdotal evidence, there is actually food to help you sleep better. Better eating for better sleep begins with timing of meals.

To understand how to use food to help sleep come easily, you need to understand what eating and digestion do to the body. When you ingest foods, you take in varying amounts of four important biological molecules: nucleic acids, fats or lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins. These molecules, especially fats and carbohydrates, are good sources of energy. If the energy goes unused, the body converts it into heat. Carbohydrates can also increase the amount of serotonin, a brain hormone that promotes sleep.

If you consume a large meal before you go to bed, your body will take a long time digesting it. Moreover, if you have a meal within two hours before your bed time, you will go to bed with a relatively higher body temperature, making it harder for you to go to sleep. Doctors will often recommend larger meals during the day, when you need the energy to function; and smaller, lighter meals at night, when you need your body to relax completely.

A light meal at night should have a few complex carbohydrates to promote serotonin production, but not too much that may give you too much energy before you get to bed. You can try a small bowl of oatmeal or cereal, or a chicken sandwich, along with a glass of warm milk. Milk contains high levels of calcium, which can calm your nerves, as well as some tryptophan, an amino acid that has been found to increase serotonin production.

You can therefore take low amounts of tryptophan-rich food to help you sleep. Such foods may include eggs, meat, fish, beans, nuts and cheese. You can also take low amounts of carbohydrate-rich food to help you sleep. These will include cereals, figs, fruits, potatoes, and pasta. Although sugar is a good source of carbohydrates, keep the consumption to a minimum.

You will also need food to help you sleep soundly. In order to stay asleep, your brain needs to produce enough serotonin to last the entire night. You can try eating a banana, which is digested slower, so that serotonin is released later. You can also add a few fats to your evening diet, but only in low quantities. Such food might include butter, peanut butter, nuts, and chocolate. Thus, a good bedtime snack will consist of a sandwich made of chicken and cheese sandwiched between two pieces of whole wheat bread, along with a square of chocolate and a glass of warm milk.

The key to finding and eating food to help sleep come to you is to never overindulge in any one food. For instance, at low levels, carbohydrates can allow your brain to lower production of the neurotransmitter orexin, which is associated with alertness. At high levels, however, carbohydrates will give you an energy boost. Tryptophan-rich foods will work for serotonin production, but only if you have carbohydrates along with them, and if your stomach is not empty.

There are many other drinks and food to help you sleep. You can drink a cup of chamomile tea, which can bring on mild sedation and relaxation. You can drizzle your tea or milk with honey. A handful of almonds has enough tryptophan to induce serotonin production, as well as magnesium to relax your muscles. You can also substitute the chicken in your sandwich with turkey, which is rich in tryptophan.

There are also foods and drinks to avoid if you want to sleep. Stay away from caffeine or nicotine, which act as stimulants. Although alcohol can relax you, it can keep you from sleeping soundly, so don’t drink that nightcap down. With the right food to help you sleep, and the stimulants out of your diet, you can have sweet dreams when you finally get into bed.