Try These Sleep-Enhancing Foods


Most of us know which foods or drinks to avoid before bedtime because they may cause sleep disruption. Anything with caffeine, like coffee or tea is obvious, but dark chocolate also contains small amounts of caffeine and those sensitive to it may find themselves staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m. Spicy foods may cause stomach upset and things like celery that have a high water content will probably send you to the bathroom in the night. But you may not know there are a number of foods and beverages that actually are sleep-enhancing if consumed before bedtime.
Research has shown older adults often have difficulty sleeping which can be related to many things such as health issues like chronic pain from arthritis. Surprisingly, eating or drinking specific foods at least an hour prior to bed can help you drift off sooner. Just make sure it’s a light snack. An AARP Magazine slide show lists some of the following nighttime snacks for good sleep.

  • Almonds – A small handful of almonds or even a tablespoon of yummy almond butter contains the mineral magnesium, which has muscle-relaxing properties.
  • Bananas – Bananas are one of those perfect foods – they contain a good source of potassium, but also have the amino acid tryptophan, which can make you drowsy.
  • Milk – Milk also contains tryptophan. When added to cereal, the carbohydrates aid the tryptophan by getting to the brain quicker. Cheese also has tryptophan, but the fat content may be a problem for some.
  •  Decaffeinated Green Tea – Tea can be an invigorating or relaxing drink. Be sure you choose the decaf versions before bed. Green tea has theanine, another amino acid that is both a stress-reducer and helps you relax.
  • Hummus – Traditional hummus contains garbanzo beans (chickpeas) that have tryptophan and vitamin B-6 and folate, both of which help regulate your body’s sleep/wake clock.
  • Pineapple – Research has shown that pineapples have a very high level of melatonin, which is a natural sleep aid which occurs in the body, but decreases when we age.

Approach these sleep-inducers cautiously, as everyone’s digestion is different and your doctor may have advised you to avoid certain foods and beverages.

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