6 Ways To Eat Yourself to Better Sleep

Forget sleeping pills, the key to a good night's sleep is in the way you eat. Here are six tips to nibble, sip and soothe your way to sweet dreams.
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Forget sleeping pills, the key to a good night's sleep is in the way you eat. Here are six tips to nibble, sip and soothe your way to sweet dreams.
bananas

1. Listen To Your Mother
Science mostly agrees with Mom: A cup of warm milk sweetened with honey can help you nod off. But it's not the tryptophan in milk that does the trick; you?d have to chug one and a half gallons of moo juice before the tryptophan would affect you. A better scientific explanation: the combination of protein, carbs and just a little fat, which, says Lisa Shives, MD, a sleep doctor in Evanston, Illinois, will fill you up and keep you satisfied so you don?t wake from hunger.

2. Make Like a Monkey
Bananas are like big yellow sleeping pills, says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. They?re chock-full of magnesium, which is a muscle relaxant; potassium, which studies show is important to deep sleep; and carbs, which help induce sleep.

3. Don't dine with vampires or owls
...or any other creatures that love the nightlife. Eating a big meal right before bedtime activates your digestive process, which can keep you awake. Your stomach doesn't like doing its thing while you?re lying down--and won't be shy about grumbling its objections.

4. Balance The Booze
Too much alcohol (more than one glass of wine) can make falling asleep easy--and staying asleep nearly impossible, says Dr. Shives. Booze interferes with your REM sleep (a deep, dream-heavy stage), so you?ll be awake at 3 a.m., regretting that last round.

5. Nosh To Nod
A big meal might be a bad idea, but a healthy, carb based snack (fewer than 250 calories) eaten 90 minutes before bed can cue the Sandman. Try oatmeal with milk. "The milk's protein helps you metabolize the oatmeal's carbs, which raises serotonin, a hormone that promotes sleep," Breus says.

6. Time It Right
It may not be exciting, but eating at the same time every day regulates your circadian rhythm, the internal clock that tells your body it?s time to sleep, Breus says.

Snoozy fact! According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average American sleeps 6 hours and 40 minutes on weeknights. Experts recommend seven to nine hours.