Diet Tips to Help You Sleep Better

Time Change? Foods Can Help You Adapt

Sleepy Woman
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The change from to Standard to Daylight Saving Time in the spring and back again in the fall can mess up your sleeping pattern. So will travel across a couple of time zones.

Your body will adjust over time, but the foods and beverages you consume might help you get a better night's sleep. Here are five sleep-promoting tips, including what to avoid and what to add to your diet. Click the slideshow arrow to see more.

Go Easy on the Coffee, Soda and Energy Drinks

Too much coffee can give you troubles at night.
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Caffeine is the first thing to consider if you're having trouble getting to sleep. Even if you're not crossing time zones, drinking too much coffee in the afternoon or evening can disrupt sleep.

Quitting the caffeine habit isn't easy or comfortable. Many people suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness, flu-like feelings, irritability and lack of concentration when they give up caffeine cold turkey.

You can avoid those symptoms by gradually withdrawing. Try blending decaffeinated coffee with regular coffee. Increase the amount of decaf over a few weeks time -- before you travel.

Don't Drink Too Much Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can disrupt sleep.
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Although a little bit of alcohol may make you feel relaxed and sleepy, over-imbibing in your favorite adult beverages may cause a very restless uncomfortable night. You may fall asleep easily enough, but sleep is often disrupted in the middle of the night, which is the last thing you need when you're trying to adjust to a time change.

Stick to one drink. That's equal to12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or one shot of liquor. Or skip the potent potables altogether. 

Eat Light at Dinner Time

Eating a light dinner may make it easier to fall asleep.
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An evening meal that's heavy in fat and protein could lead to indigestion and heartburn, and that's not conducive to a good night's sleep. Avoid creamy sauces, deep-fried foods and large cuts of meat. Keep portions on the small side -- don't stuff yourself. 

Opt for something light like baked halibut and spinach, both of which are high in tryptophan, which your body needs to produce serotonin, a hormone that promotes relaxation. Chickpeas are also high in tryptophan. 

Other options include a salad as a meal, a small bowl of soup and a slice of whole grain bread, or a plate of mixed vegetables.

Drink Tart Cherry Juice

Cherry juice may help you fall asleep.
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Tart cherry juice is high in melatonin - something your body produces naturally to regulate sleep. The extra melatonin from the cherry juice may help improve sleep quality and duration.

Don't like tart cherries? Walnuts are also high in melatonin. Or you can make a quick shopping trip and pick up a bottle of melatonin supplements -- be sure to follow label instructions, and if you have any health conditions, please speak to your doctor first.

Eat a Carbohydrate-Rich Bedtime Snack

Bedtime Snack
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A small bedtime snack that's high in complex carbohydrates can boost your serotonin levels, and help you relax. Cereal and milk, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or cheese, fruit and crackers are all good suggestions.


Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. "Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality." Eur J Nutr. 2012 Dec;51(8):909-16.

National Sleep Foundation. "Healthy Sleeping Tips." 

Ozsungur S, Brenner D, El-Sohemy A."Fourteen well-described caffeine withdrawal symptoms factor into three clusters." Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009 Jan;201(4):541-8. 

Thakkar MM, Sharma R, Sahota P. "Alcohol disrupts sleep homeostasis." Alcohol. 2014 Nov 11. pii: S0741-8329(14)20115-7. 

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