The Best Foods for Sleep
The brain is highly affected, for better or for worse, by nutrition. So it stands to reason that sleep can also be highly affected, for better or for worse, by what you eat. Some foods help you sleep restfully; others have the opposite effect. “Sleepers” are foods for sleep that contain tryptophan, the amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that slows down nerve traffic so your brain isn’t so busy. The body also uses tryptophan to help make melatonin. “Wakers” are foods that do the opposite; they stimulate neurochemicals that perk up the brain and are not foods for sleep.
It’s not difficult to get enough tryptophan to set up the brain for sleep. Foods for sleep are high in tryptophan and healthy carbohydrates (foods that naturally contain fiber, protein, and fat in addition to sugars). Good carbs help more tryptophan get into the brain tissue to make sleep-inducing substances, such as melatonin and serotonin. (High-protein meals are also good for breakfast, since protein tends to perk up the brain.) For a restful night’s sleep, shoot for an early evening meal and before-bed snack comprised of foods for sleep that in total contain at least 300 milligrams of tryptophan.
Foods for Sleep:
|Snooze Foods:||Portion Size:||Tryptophan (in milligrams):|
|Wild game, elk||6 ounces||900|
|Bean burrito with cheese||1 medium||200|
|Cottage cheese||½ cup||175|
|Pumpkin seeds||1 ounce||164|
|Sesame seeds||1 ounce||105|
|Cheddar cheese||1 ounce||91|
|Sunflower seeds||1 ounce||84|