Are you having trouble falling asleep at night? Studies show that 70 million people in the United States alone struggle with chronic sleep problems. Many more can experience bouts of insomnia, because of stress or even hormonal changes (one of the symptoms of menopause is difficulty sleeping).
But here’s the good news: some foods can help you fall asleep. Here’s a list of some ‘bedtime snacks’ you can take. They all contain melatonin, which controls your body’s sleep cycles. Take them regularly, so your body has healthy stores of this natural sleep ingredient.
Cherries are a rich source of melatonin, and can be used in a number of ways! Try sprinkling dried cherries on your oatmeal, for a nutritious and high-fiber breakfast. Cherries can also be used in salads or blended with yogurt and milk for a delicious smoothie. For dessert, try adding cherries into vanilla or chocolate ice cream—yum! Of course, if you enjoy baking, there are plenty of recipes that make use of cherries: pies, cookies, tarts.
Carbohydrates boost your body’s production of serotonin—that’s why you often feel sleepy after a heavy meal! While too many carbs before bedtime can make you feel bloated (and can also add inches to your waistline) stick to ‘healthy’ carbs. Why not have a small platter of crackers and cheese, or some toast with tea. The key is to control your portions so that you don’t load up your digestive system with a really heavy meal right before you go to sleep.
Hot milk does help you settle down for sleep, because it contains tryptophan. If you can’t stand the taste of plain milk, try stirring a small amount into your hot tea or a smoothie.
Cut down on caffeine
Eating a bowlful of cherries and drinking a gallon of milk won’t help your sleep problems if your body’s pumped with caffeine. Have your last cup of coffee or black tea, or your last glass of soda or iced tea, at least 8 hours before your bedtime.
Some allergy and migraine medications contain small amounts of caffeine. If you are taking any prescription medications, talk to your doctor about their side effects and whether they can interfere with your sleep cycle. Your doctor may be able to prescribe alternatives.
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