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8 Foods That Can Help You Sleep

If you're having trouble falling asleep, try checking out these eight suggestions for food sources of nutrients that promote sleep.
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Sleep is a precious thing that many of us are unfortunately lacking, either because we're always busy and can't fit enough ZZZs into our schedules or because we just can't fall asleep and truly rest. While there are a variety of options on the market to help kick your sleep patterns into better gear, both natural supplements and more traditional medications, there are also foods that can help lull you to sleep. 
 
1. Turkey
Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which contributes to helping you sleep by increasing serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that has effects on almost all of your brain cells. The effectiveness of turkey in promoting sleep is still being debated, but its tryptophan content can't be denied.
 
2. Cherries
With about the highest natural melatonin content found in foods, cherries can help make you sleepy. In addition to boosting your melatonin level, cherries can provide antioxidant protection, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, therefore helping your body to fall asleep naturally and stay asleep until you're fully rested. If you're not into fresh cherries, tart cherry juice can also do the trick. Try eating a handful of cherries or drinking the juice about an hour before bed so your body has time to digest them and absorb the melatonin, priming you for restful sleep.
 
3. Dark Chocolate
Regular milk chocolate contains caffeine and tyrosine, which turns into the stimulant dopamine, and can do the opposite effect, keeping you awake. However, chocolate of the dark variety can provide benefits for sleep, as it contains serotonin which helps calm and relax you. 
 
4. Bananas
Potassium, magnesium and tryptophan are three significant ingredients found in bananas that can help bring about sleepy time. Potassium and magnesium are muscle relaxants which can help calm your body, and tryptophan is an amino acid that provides sleep-promoting benefits. The combination of these three ingredients makes for one powerful sleep-encouraging fruit.
 
5. Nuts (Walnuts, Cashews, Almonds, Pistachios)
These types of nuts are loaded with protein, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids which can help lower your cholesterol, protect your heart health and improve your serotonin levels. Walnuts also contain tryptophan and melatonin, two ingredients that can get you to fall asleep quickly. Nuts also work to keep you feeling full and satisfied so you don't reach for more food and can instead concentrate on falling asleep.
 
6. Chamomile Tea
This tea is derived from the leaf of the chamomile plant. Chamomile has been known to have a soothing, relaxing effect and can encourage you to fall asleep. Another good thing to know about chamomile tea is that it is not caffeinated, so it won't cause adverse effects and keep you up at night when you're trying to get some much-needed shuteye.
 
7. Honey
Having a spoonful of honey before bed or added to chamomile tea can be a great way to promote sleep. According to nutritionist Lindsey Duncan on DrOz.com, the natural sugar content in honey may raise your insulin level slightly, which allows tryptophan to better make its way into your brain for relaxing effects.
 
8. Oatmeal
A bowl of oatmeal before bed provides a healthy boost of ingredients like magnesium, potassium, calcium and phosphorous, each of which supplies benefits for falling asleep. 
 
If you're having a hard time falling asleep and you're looking for a natural way to encourage healthier sleep patterns, adding some of these sleep-promoting foods to your diet can be a great option to try.  The amount of sleep-encouraging ingredients found in these foods is rather low, so you probably shouldn't expect to have your insomnia issue fixed just by eating some cherries. However, when consumed as a regular part of your diet and used in conjunction with other relaxation methods and ways to promote sleep, these foods can be very beneficial. 
 
Check back next week for more great health tips at eVitamins!
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