Medical experts all agree; sleep is necessary. We all need it. Not only that, it’s good for you too. When you’re well rested, your mood is usually better, your reflexes are snappier, and your head stays clear and sharp. Not getting enough sleep can really bring your whole day down, and even lead to more serious impacts such as a reduced immune system or an off kilter appetite that makes weight fluctuations something to worry about. And before what you’re eating gets disrupted, what you eat can cause sleep problems in the first place.
What you eat just before bedtime, or even in the hours before lying down, can affect if you get to sleep, or when, or how well you sleep once you are out for the count. Most people have heard of food and drink that can induce sleepiness, like Thanksgiving turkey or a glass of milk. Turkey contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps produce serotonin. And serotonin is directly linked to the human sleep cycle. It may or may not make you sleepy to eat turkey or other tryptophan containing foods, but including them in your diet will help keep your serotonin levels at an even keel. So that when you are ready to go for some shut eye, you won’t be fighting your own body.
- 1Serotonin, the production of which can be promoted by eating tryptophan containing foods, helps regulate your sleep cycle.
- 2Whole grains and a moderate amount of carbohydrates will help your brain process the tryptophan and make use of it.
- 3Melatonin is another natural hormone that contributes to a healthy sleep cycle; cherries are a natural source of melatonin.