Lulla-bite and good night: Sleep-inducing foods


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Sleep: It’s nature’s repair. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the amount of sleep we obtain (or lack thereof) directly affects our mood, memory, weight, energy and overall health. A number of factors contribute to encouraging or discouraging adequate amounts of rest: exercise, stress and diet.

Many of us are aware of such sleep inhibitors as caffeine, chocolate and alcohol. How many of us, though, are aware of healthy eats that lull us peacefully to a much-needed slumber? Take heed of the best snacks for snoozing success.

In addition to reducing caffeine and alcohol intake prior to bedtime, it may be beneficial to eat a light bedtime snack for optimal zzz’s. According to natural health chiropractor and acupuncturist, Dr. Ben Kim, the best early-evening munchies should be a mix of food/drink that are both carbohydrate-rich and that contain tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that triggers serotonin in the brain, ultimately encouraging sleep. Beans, turkey, whole grains, sunflower and sesame seeds, peanuts and hazelnuts, unsweetened soymilk, certain dairy products and eggs contain concentrated amounts of tryptophan.

Although these sleep-happy foods are healthy, steer clear of over-indulging, especially too close to bed time. Overeating, no matter how sleep-friendly the food, is cause for belly discomfort and interrupted sleep. The same goes for too much warm milk — sleepy you may become, but you’ll run the risk of increased nighttime bathroom visits.

Less is best with nighttime munchies. Go with a slice of toast with natural peanut butter, a half cup of low-fat yogurt paired with a low-fat granola bar, or a cup full of light unprocessed granola shortly before turning in, and get out of bed rested and happy come morning.