If you are one of the millions of Americans having trouble sleeping tonight, the remedy might be just down the hall, hidden behind the pantry door.  In the battle against insomnia, there are do’s and don’ts.  Most of the time when food shows up on a list of tips to help improve your sleep, it is on the don’t list.  Don’t eat anything spicy.  Don’t drink alcohol.  Don’t drink caffeine.  Don’t eat a heavy meal right before bed.   But there are also ways that food can show up on your list of things to do.  Here are 7 things you can do tonight to improve your chance of falling asleep and staying asleep all night long.


1.     Tryptophan isn’t just in turkey.

Don’t feel up to making Thanksgiving dinner once a week so you can snack on turkey to help you sleep?  Don’t worry!  While turkey does contain tryptophan, there are several other foods that do too.  This list includes chicken, dairy products, oatmeal, and even eggs.  Eating any of these as a snack can help you find the sleep you seek.


2.     Think small.

While it isn’t a good idea to eat a big heavy meal right before bedtime, it is generally a good idea to have a small, healthy snack about 45 minutes before you hit the sack.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends choosing a snack that contains both carbs and protein for the best result.


3.     Snack for better sleep.

People who are trying to lose weight are frequently told not to eat after a certain time.  But this can actually make it harder to lose weight because going to bed hungry can keep you from getting the sleep you need which makes weight loss much harder.  Plan a healthy snack before bed to keep your tummy from rumbling until morning.


4.     Drink tea.

Tea, especially blends formulated to promote relaxation, can help you get to sleep by signaling the brain that it is time to wind down.  Try chamomile or lemon balm which are both known to promote sleep.


5.     Eat fruit.

But not just any fruit.  Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, the hormone that tells your body it is time for bed.   You can eat them whole or have a small glass of juice.


6.     Better nights with B6.

Research indicates that vitamin B6 deficiencies can inhibit the natural production of melatonin which may contribute to sleepless nights.  Boost your B6 by eating fish, bananas, and hummus, which are all great sources this vitamin.


7.     Calm yourself with calcium.

According to EatingWell.com, initial research indicates that calcium deficiency may contribute to problems with sleep.  Give yourself twice the chance of getting a good night’s sleep by snacking on a dairy product that increases your calcium and provides tryptophan.


There is no question that decisions we make throughout each day impact the quality and quantity of sleep we get each night.  Understanding the link between food and sleep can help ensure you get the sleep you need while also keeping you from unknowingly sabotaging yourself.  If you find yourself tossing and turning tonight, reaching for the right snack can help get you drifting back to dreamland.