Food for Thought: 5 Nutrition Tips for Better Sleep


Falling asleep at the desk? A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that nearly one-third of the American work force is deprived of those precious few hours of sleep.

Here’s the deal. 30 percent of professional adults noted that they get (or don’t get) six hours of sleep (or less) per night. In terms of ethnicity, those who classified themselves as “white” or “Hispanic” got the most shut-eye, whereas individuals who checked off “black,” “Asian,” or “other race” got the least.

Blood line wasn’t the only element at play either; marital status and whether an individual had received a high school diploma were also measured in the study.

Getting your best night of sleep yet may be as simple as making small dietary tweaks. Rest easy (well, easier) with these five nutrition-based tips for nipping insomnia in the bed.

Eat a big breakfast. While it can be tempting to chow down on a handful of nuts, crackers and, well, everything else once you walk in the door from work, it’s actually best to consume your largest meal of the day in the morning. Dinner, on the other hand, should be moderate in size, as a large meal tends to raise your body temperature and heart rate, ultimately inhibiting your ability to fall asleep.

Try tryptophan. There’s a reason everyone at the table makes a beeline for the couch following a hefty Thanksgiving meal. Turkey contains an amino acid known as tryptophan, a natural sedative that makes you sleepy. You needn’t serve turkey to doze off either; cheese and tuna are other possible sources.

MSG? Not for me! If you haven’t already eliminated foods that contain MSG, or monosodium glutamate, from your diet, now might be the perfect time to do so. MSG, which often appears in processed foods, can provoke insomnia.

Do ask for decaf. Save that cup of hopped up espresso for the morning, and steer clear of caffeinated beverages within three hours of hitting the hay. Caffeine is a stimulant, which can increase your heart rate and inhibit your ability to doze off.

More melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone derivative of tryptophan. While it shouldn’t be taken in large doses, the right amount may come in handy when it comes to curing insomnia. Individuals with liver conditions should not take melatonin, and remember to always speak with a physician before starting any new supplement.