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6 Diet Strategies For a Sounder Snooze

6 Diet Strategies For a Sounder Snooze


A good night’s sleep is not just an extravagance—it’s essential for  maintaining short and long-term health.

If worry and stress are keeping you up at night, you’ve probably searched  high and low for information on relaxation and meditation techniques to help you  salvage some valuable snooze time.

But counting sheep isn’t the only way to get yourself to sleep—what you eat  right before you go to bed can also play a role. While no particular foods are  known to induce sleep; knowing what, when, and how much to eat and drink can up  your chances for a sound snooze.

Here are six things to keep in mind when preparing midnight  munchies:

1. Keep your pre-bedtime beverages virgin and decaf: If you  want a solid stint of shut-eye, stay away from alcohol and caffeine in the hours preceding your bedtime.  It’s true that alcohol, which is a depressant, can help you fall asleep, but it  won’t help you stay that way.Multiple studies have shown that  alcohol can wreak havoc on a person’s sleep cycles—first by reducing the amount  of time they spend in the REM (rapid-eye movement) stage, and then by causing  them to awaken multiple times throughout the night. On the opposite end of the  spectrum lies caffeine—the everywoman’s go-to stimulant. According to the  American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it can take anywhere from 8 to 14 hours for  the effects of caffeine to fully wear off, depending on how acclimated you are  to it. That’s why it’s a good idea to lay off of common sources of caffeine,  including: coffee, tea and chocolate, at least a few hours before you want to go  to bed.

2. Use your diet to master melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone  produced by the brain that plays a big role in regulating sleep cycles. Light is  the ultimate arbiter of melatonin production. When daylight fades, your body  begins to churn out more of the sleep-inducing chemical. It is also available in  supplement form and is a popular alternative to prescription sleep aids. As a  person ages, they generally become less capable of producing melatonin. Cherries  are one of the few foods that can lay claim to being a natural source of  melatonin and studies done by scientists from the University of Rochester and  the University of Pennsylvania have indicated that consuming tart cherry juice  can facilitate sleep in certain people. But chugging cherry juice isn’t the only  way to naturally up your melatonin production. Certain snacks, including:  bananas, some fish (salmon, tuna and cod), pistachios, peanut butter, chickpeas  and fortified cereals contain significant amounts of the vitamin B6—a key  component for making melatonin.

3. Smaller is better: The Mayo Clinic advises hungry  insomniacs to keep their midnight meals miniscule and low-fat. A big meal can  make you feel bloated and may cause painful heartburn. A small bowl of cereal  with milk, or a banana with a bit of peanut butter will generally be enough to  fight off hunger pangs so you can get some shut-eye.

4. Insufficient nutrients can equal insufficient sleep: A  rumbling tummy and certain vitamin deficiencies can contribute to insomnia.  Research has shown that maintaining a healthy level of vitamin D in particular  is essential for sound slumber. Aim for a nighttime snack that includes:  fortified cereals and dairy products, and eggs.

5. Carbo-loading isn’t just for marathoners: Bread lovers  rejoice—carbs are a key component of sleep-inducing snacks. Consuming  carbohydrates makes it easier for your brain to pick up and convert tryptophan (an  essential amino acid found in a variety of different foods, including: eggs,  cheese, oatmeal, potatoes, bananas and poultry) into serotonin and melatonin,  two hormones that make you more relaxed and drowsy.  When creating your  bedtime snack, it’s probably best to stick with complex carbs, such as: fruits,  oats, whole grain cereals and breads, and veggies.

6. Liquidate your pre-bedtime fluids: In order to prevent  unwanted trips to the bathroom at one o’ clock in the morning, the Mayo Clinic  recommends avoiding drinking too much in the hour or so right before you go to  bed.

By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor provides online  caregiver support by connecting people caring for elderly parents to other  caregivers, elder care experts, personalized information, and local resources. has become the trusted resource for exchanging ideas, sharing  conversations and finding credible information for those seeking elder care  solutions.


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