7 Foods That Help You Sleep at Night

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There’s nothing worse than getting into bed only to spend the next few hours tossing and turning before finally falling asleep. Maybe you had too much coffee or maybe there’s a lot on your mind, but it's possible your sleeplessness is from something you ate. Although it’s not something we normally think about, your diet has an effect on your ability to fall asleep at night.

“Some foods may help with falling a sleep or sleep duration while other foods may inhibit or affect the quality of sleep,” says Tami Lyon, RD, MPH.

Avoiding foods with caffeine or sugar before bed can help you get some shuteye, but foods rich in tryptophan and melatonin also help induce sleep. Tryptophan, an amino-acid, is the precursor to serotonin, a hormone that helps us feel relaxed. Serotonin is also essential in producing melatonin, a key hormone that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles.

“The secret to a sleep inducing snack is pairing a tryptophan-rich food with a complex carbohydrate,” says Sara Ansari, RD, a private practice dietitian based in San Francisco and founder of Designer Diets. Carbohydrates allow the tryptophan to be more readily available to your brain — just think about how sleepy you feel after eating turkey and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving.

To help you sleep better at night, we’ve consulted with nutritionists Lyon and Ansari to come up with a list of foods you should be adding to your diet.

Image: s_l/Fotolia

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