You exercise, you’ve cut out alcohol and caffeine before bed, and you’ve learned to relax at night, but you’re still having trouble falling asleep. What’s keeping you awake? As it turns out, your diet could be to blame. Fortunately, there are a number of foods and beverages that can help you sleep.

Fish: Tuna, halibut, and salmon are high in vitamin B6, which your body uses to make melatonin and serotonin, chemicals produced in the brain that are related to healthy sleep. Making a delicious dinner with one of these fish could help you drift off to sleep.

Dairy products: If you’re not lactose intolerant, a glass of milk, a piece of cheese, or a bowl of yogurt could be a good snack. Calcium and tryptophan – an amino acid used in the synthesis of proteins - found in dairy products help produce melatonin. A bowl of cereal is also a good idea, since the carbohydrates combined with the milk give you a double dose of sleep-inducing foods.

Tea: Chamomile or passionfruit tea can help you drift off to sleep. Chamomile tea increases production of glycine, a chemical that both relaxes nerves and muscles but also acts as a mild sedative. Chemicals found in the passionfruit flower also help relax your nervous system. Adding a dollop of honey helps, too, because it raises insulin a little, which allows tryptophan to enter the brain.

Leafy vegetables: Lettuce contains lactucarium, which has sedative properties. Kale, spinach, and other leafy vegetables are high in calcium, which – like those in the dairy products – helps produce melatonin.

Grains: Grains have a lot of sleep benefits. Rice is a carbohydrate with a high glycemic level, so if eaten at dinner it can help you fall asleep faster. Other whole grains are high in magnesium, which you need to stay asleep once you’ve fallen asleep.

Nuts: Almonds are rich in magnesium, which is good for helping you stay asleep. Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan and melatonin.

Cherry juice: It might not be the most common thing on the shelves, but a glass of cherry juice, particularly tart cherry juice, has been show to boost melatonin levels and helps some people experiencing insomnia.

With a few changes to your diet, more restful sleep could be around the corner.

If you still have trouble sleeping and would like to make an appointment with a sleep specialist, call 704-295-3000. You can also request an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.

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