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Treatment and Care for Sleep Disorders
5 Foods That Help You Sleep

We live in a fast pace society. In our rush, we too often put sleep on the back burner.

Here are a few foods to get you started to a good night sleep.

1. Complex carbohydrates
Enjoy whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, crackers and brown rice. Always avoid simple carbohydrates, including breads, pasta and sweets such as cookies, cakes, pastries and other sugary foods. These tend to reduce serotonin levels and do not promote sleep.

2. Lean proteins
Lean proteins include low-fat cheese, chicken, turkey and fish. These foods are high in the amino acid tryptophan, which tends to increase serotonin levels. On the flipside, avoid high-fat cheeses, chicken wings or deep-fried fish. These take longer to digest and can keep you awake.

3. Heart-healthy fats
Unsaturated fats will not only boost your heart health but also improve your serotonin levels. Examples include peanut butter (read the label to make sure peanuts are the only ingredient) and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios. Avoid foods with saturated and trans fats, such as french fries, potato chips or other high-fat snack foods. These bring your serotonin levels down.

4. Beverages
Certain drinks can promote or prevent sleep. A good, soothing beverage to drink before bedtime would be warm milk or herbal tea such as chamomile or peppermint. As for caffeinated drinks, consume that last cup by 2 p.m. Caffeine can affect people differently, and even the smallest amount of stimulant can keep you awake.

5. Fresh herbs
Fresh herbs can have a calming effect on the body. For example, sage and basil contain chemicals that reduce tension and promote sleep. Trymaking your own homemade pasta sauce with sage and basil. It's easy to do, and homemade sauces tend to be lower in sugar than store-bought versions. However, avoid herbs such as red pepper or black pepper at night, as they have a stimulatory effect.

Shahriar Shahzeidi, M.D. FAAP, FCCP, FAASM
Medical Director
Pediatrician-in-Chief
Fellow of the College of Chest Physicians
Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
AASP
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Related Links
• National Sleep Foundation - Website
• American Academy of Sleep Medicine - Website
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