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Having trouble sleeping? Try these foods

Business colleagues working at night while eating.
Posted at 11:53 AM, Jan 06, 2023

Sleep is a crucial part of our health.

Nutrition experts say to improve sleep, it's less about what you're eating and more about when you're eating it.

“Imagine eating a big old steak, which I have nothing against. I think steak's awesome, but when we're having it way too close to bed, sometimes we're tossing and turning because it just takes longer to break down certain foods when we eat them too closely to our bedtime,” said Yasi Ansari, a registered dietitian nutritionist with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “So foods that are higher in protein foods that might be higher in certain fats.”

The same also goes for foods that are spicy or acidic, like tomato sauces. As a general rule, she says to try to allow 2-3 hours between your last meal of the day and your bedtime.

But that can vary by person. You also don’t want to go to bed hungry, which can disrupt your sleep just as much.

Some good bedtime foods include things high in potassium, magnesium, and tryptophan.

“We hear about Thanksgiving turkey, but it's not just turkey,” said Ansari. “It could be any other lean protein, and it could be even dairy sources that contain tryptophan. Tryptophan is actually a precursor to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that helps with sleep and also it helps with the production of melatonin."

Tryptophan can be found in dairy products like greek yogurt and cottage cheese.

For things high in magnesium and potassium, nuts, seeds, avocados and bananas can be good bedtime snacks.

She says it can be helpful to keep a food journal of what you eat before bed every night to see what helps you sleep best.