Sleeplessness has been linked to a variety of ills, including memory problems, lack of focus, weight gain, and high blood pressure. And, yes, you can admit it: When you don’t get your eight hours in, you’re just plain cranky. (Oh, wait, that’s me!)
If you’ve tried everything, from counting sheep to reading James Joyce novels, but you’re still tossing and turning, fight insomnia by giving these sleep-inducing foods (they contain serotonin, a hormone that promotes sleep) a try:
- Lean proteins. Think low-fat cheese, chicken, fish, and turkey, all high in the amino acid tryptophan, which tends to increase serotonin levels. Avoid high-fat cheeses, chicken wings, or deep-fried fish. These take longer to digest and can keep you awake.
- Complex carbohydrates. Lean toward whole-grain bread, cereals, pasta, crackers, and brown rice. Stay away from simple carbohydrates, including white bread, cake, cookies, pastries, and other sugary foods.
- Heart-healthy fats. Unsaturated fats do double duty: They boost heart health and improve serotonin levels. Examples include peanut butter (make sure peanuts are the only ingredient) and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios.
- Fresh herbs. Some herbs, such as basil and sage, reduce tension and promote sleep. But you’ll want to avoid red pepper or black pepper at night; they are stimulants.
- Beverages. Drinks that encourage sleep include warm milk (Grandma was right) or herbal tea such as chamomile or peppermint. Try not to have anything with caffeine after 2 p.m.
Now snuggle under the covers and have sweet dreams!