Partly Cloudy   16.0F  |  Forecast »
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print

In Search of a Good Night's Sleep

According to recent studies, between a third and a half of all Americans suffer from insomnia, the inability to obtain sufficient sleep; while countless others complain of poor sleep - waking even more exhausted than when they went to bed.

As we know, a good night’s sleep does more than just make you feel better or banish the dark circles under your eyes; sleep plays an important role in your physical health, as chronic sleep deprivation is directly linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. 

However, before succumbing to a variety of sleeping aides constantly touted on TV, you may want to try a few of the sleep-inducing foods listed below prior to going to bed - and let nature lend a hand.

BANANAS

Although thought of as a breakfast food, these powerhouses are also ideal before going to bed as they not only contain tryptophan, an amino acid that has been linked to sleep quality, but also offer abundant amounts of magnesium and potassium, which are known for their muscle relaxing qualities.

CEREAL & MILK

Milk also contains sleep-promoting tryptophan, which the brain uses to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep and wake cycles. Pair with a carbohydrate such as a small bowl of whole-grain, low sugar cereal to make the tryptophan more available to the brain.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES

Additional Sources of tryptophan that you may want to try include: Cheddar cheese (gram per gram it contains more tryptophan than turkey), peanut butter, hummus (rich in folate and vitamin B-6 to help regulate your sleep) and pumpkin seeds.

In addition, foods rich in melatonin, the sleep hormone that regulates your internal clock, should also be considered. 

PINEAPPLE

Certain fruits significantly increase natural levels of melatonin in the body.

Eating pineapple, for instance, increases melatonin markers by a whopping 266 percent, bananas show a 180 percent rise, and oranges raise melatonin levels by 47 percent.

CHERRIES

Of course, the latest and greatest news this year has been that cherries, especially the tart varieties - in raw or juice form - allow you to fall asleep faster and sleep better for a longer period of time. Doesn’t that sound heavenly?