Tossing and turning? The answer to—or the cause of—your sleep issues may be in your fridge. Read on to find which foods to consider adding to your diet for a more peaceful slumber…and which to stay away from before bed.
5 SNOOZE FOODS:
High antioxidant and serotonin levels could be the secret behind the kiwi’s sleep superpowers—in one study, eating two kiwis an hour before bed for four weeks was correlated with falling asleep 35 percent faster, a 28 percent dip in waking during the night, and better sleep quality.
Drinking an eight-ounce glass of tart cherry juice twice a day can get you an average of 84 extra minutes of sleep each night, according to research from Louisiana State University. It’s a natural source of both melatonin—a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles—and tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body make serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to aid sleep.
A cup of chickpeas has almost a full day’s recommended supply of vitamin B6, which helps the body produce melatonin and serotonin. You’ll also find it in tuna, salmon, chicken, and turkey.
If you’re grabbing Thai take-out, don’t be shy about loading up on jasmine rice—eating it four hours before bed correlated with falling asleep faster in a 2007 study.
Salad may not be the first thing you reach for when you want a good night’s sleep, but the magnesium content found in spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens make them a great option for a peaceful snooze—insomnia is one of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. In elderly people, magnesium supplements improved sleep time and the amount of time it took to fall asleep.
4 SLEEP DISTURBERS:
Wings for dinner? Make ‘em mild—spicy foods raise your body temperature, which can lead to more brain activity come bedtime. Not only can that lead to poor sleep, there’s also some speculation that a spicy meal before bedtime can contribute to strange dreams or nightmares.
Would you like fries and insomnia with that? Foods high in fat stimulate acid production in the stomach, which can lead to nighttime heartburn. Of those who report having nighttime heartburn, 75 percent said the symptoms impacted their sleep.
You may fall asleep faster and more easily after happy hour, but alcohol can actually disrupt your sleep throughout the course of the night, keeping you from entering the deeper stages of sleep and leaving you tired in the morning.
No surprise here—caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, and though people’s sensitivity varies, it’s a good idea for most to skip it later in the day. Research has found that caffeine consumption even six hours before bed can disturb sleep, so avoid relying on coffee, energy drinks, and caffeinated teas and sodas to get you through the afternoon slump. And watch out for surprising sources of caffeine, like dark chocolate and Excedrin.