Friday, September 18th, 2009

Foods for Forty Winks


You spend one third of your life sleeping. There can be no doubts on the restorative effects of sleep. If sleep evades you and you spend your nights counting sheep, your sleep solutions are a plate away. Yes, it is true, what you eat and when can make a big difference to the quality of sleep that you get.

The timing of your meals is important. It is wise not to eat a large meal within two hours of bedtime. The best routine is to have a large meal during the day and a small meal or snack in the evening. But keep the snack to 200 calories only (for instance, slap together a peanut butter whole-wheat sandwitch). Anything more than that, can make you feel bloated and too uncomfortable to sleep. Also inculcate sleep hygiene. “Restrict your bed for sex and sleep”, advises Dr. Manjari Tripathi, neurologist with AIIMS.

Seven foods for snooze

Warm milk

If your mother used to give you a cup of warm milk before sending you off to bed, she had the right idea. Dairy foods are a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body converts to melatonin and serotonin — both of which are thought to induce sleep. So it’s not a myth.

Banana bytes

Grab a banana! Bananas contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which is thought to convert into a calming and sleep-inducing chemical in the brain called serotonin. In addition, bananas contain plenty of magnesium. Magnesium is known for relaxing tense muscles

Whole-wheat bread

Eating a slice of whole-wheat bread will trigger your body to release insulin, which can help deliver tryptophan to your brain. Once in your brain, the tryptophan is converted to serotonin and you will get a good night sleep through out the whole night. To increase the sleep-inducing properties of whole-wheat bread, drizzle it with honey or wash it down with a glass of milk.


Melatonin is produced not just in the body but also found in foods as oats. To enhance snooze value of your oatmeal, pour some milk while cooking it and top it with a drizzle of honey. This food will boost your melatonin levels and help you doze off.


Consuming too much sugar before bedtime can keep you awake. However, eating just a little glucose before hitting the sack alerts your brain to stop producing orexin, a neurotransmitter that keeps us alert. Add a little honey to your tea or milk prior to bedtime.


Eating a small baked potato or a small serving of mashed or roasted potatoes will help you sleep well. It clears away acids that can interfere with yawn-inducing tryptophan. To up the soothing effects, mash it with warm milk.


A few of these healthy nuts can be snooze inducing, as they contain both tryptophan and a nice dose of muscle-relaxing magnesium. Magnesium treatment increases deep sleep and improves brain waves during sleep. Munch on almonds for a good night sleep. As an additional benefit, lower LDL cholesterol too, the kind of cholesterol that clings to arteries.

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