Foods That Provide a Natural Sleep Aid

Many insomnia sufferers are willing to try anything to get to sleep.  The tossing and turning can be agonizing, leaving you feeling frustrated, so why not try a sleep medicine?  The solution may be much simpler than that.  We’ve got ourselves programmed to think that we can’t and shouldn’t eat before bed but the next time you find yourself tossing and turning, open the refrigerator instead of the medicine cabinet.

So often we’ve been told that food before bed is bad for us so we tend to overlook it even though we know that food can make us sleepy (think back to after you’ve had a big dinner or lunch of a special Holiday meal).  The reason that we often find ourselves ready to lay down and take a nap after a big heavy meal is because of a chemical called tryptophan.  This chemical allows your body to produce an amino acide called L-Tryptophan which is essential in the production of serotonin and melatonin.  To put that in easier to understand terms it means these neurotransmitters (serotonin and melatonin) help slow down the nerve traffic in your brain and they also relax you.  This causes you to think less and sleep more.

Turkey has that relaxing effect that insomnia sufferers need to be able to fall asleep but if you are like me, the idea of eating turkey every night before bed just to help me fall asleep isn’t an option that I’m willing to take.  The good news is that turkey isn’t the only way to get tryptophan.  You can find this chemical in many other forms as well such as nuts, fish, eggs, meat (especially poultry), dairy products, soy and most other high protein foods.  You don’t want to eat a ton of these foods but a small amount before bed time can help you get that good night’s worth of sleep that you’ve been lacking.

Of course it can’t be as easy as just eating some turkey, soy, dairy or some other high protein food.  Many of these foods that contain tryptophan also contain an amino acid called tyrosine.  Tyrosine will produce chemicals that perk you up, the opposite effect of what we want.  So eaten alone, these acids will counteract each other which will end up producing no significant effect in either direction.  The key for getting rest is to eat something along with the food(s) that will utilize the tryptophan and not the tyrosine.  So what kind of food are we looking at? Carbohydrates.  Carbs will encourage your body to produce insulin which will tie up the tyrosine and allow the tryptophan to reach the brain without competition.  Make sure you don’t consume a large amount of carbs or simple sugars because this can cause you to produce too much insulin which will cause you to wake up after falling asleep, again not the effect we are looking for.

If you’ve tried other remedies to help you sleep with no success give this a shot.  Remember the key here is to eat a small meal containing tryptophan.  You don’t want to over indulge and end up consuming too much or you’ll defeat the purpose of what you are trying to accomplish in the first place, a good night’s rest.  Eat a small dinner and have a small snack an hour or two before bed.

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