As we get older, sleep can become more and more elusive. What can you do? A little research never hurt.
A new book from David Grotto, a registered dietitian, "The Best Things You Can Eat" (Da Capo Press, $15.99), offers several natural ways to promote better sleep, highlighting foods that can aid in better duration and quality of sleep.
- Tart cherry juice: Research suggests this fruit is one of the top foods that may improve sleep quality and duration, due to its high melatonin content. One study found that healthy adults experienced improved sleep time and a 5 to 6 percent increase in sleep efficiency after drinking two servings of tart cherry juice for a week.
- Chicken: Chicken rules the roost when it comes to tryptophan content. Tryptophan helps reduce serotonin, which in turn makes us feel more relaxed and sleepy.
- Salmon: An excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can help bolster proper levels of melatonin and its function.
- Pumpkin seeds: These seeds are rich in magnesium and tryptophan. Low magnesium levels have been blamed for disrupting sleep.
- Lettuce: The natural oil that occurs in lettuce has been used in folk medicine as an aid to relaxation and inducing sleep.
- Milk: The folk remedy of a warm glass of milk still rings true. Nutrients in milk, specifically calcium and tryptophan, are known to induce sleep.
- Walnuts: A number of nutrients, including folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats and vitamin E are packed into these nuts, all of which support a relaxed and healthy nervous system. Try mixing a handful of walnuts and dried cherries for a bedtime snack.
OTHER SLEEP INHIBITORS
- Staying up late because you want to: Skipping out on sleep can cause you to eat more and feel hungrier, and decreases satiety cues. Another reason to get the recommend amount of sleep every night.
- Eating large: Eating a large meal after not sleeping well can increase grogginess.
- Being overweight: A randomized study found those who cut calories and lost weight had vast improvements in obstructive sleep apnea.
- Being a couch potato: A simple walking routine may be enough to bolster better sleep by better management of weight and regulation of sleep-related hormones.