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6 Foods That Help You Sleep Better

SPECIAL FROM Grandparents.com

Nearly 60 million Americans – more than the population of Italy – wake up tired and irritable every morning due to lack of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Aside from feeling cranky and lethargic, not getting enough sleep can cause serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, depression, cognitive impairment, diabetes, and even weight gain.

The good news is that small changes in your lifestyle and diet can have a tremendous effect on the quality of sleep you get each night. So we rounded up some of the top foods that can help you catch those Zzz’s. Just remember, if you experience chronic sleepless nights that impair your mood or ability to function in any way, you should make an appointment to see your primary care physician.

  • Oatmeal with milk and honey
    When To Eat: 90 minutes before bedtime<br>
How Much: 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon honey
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Heart-heal
    NatashaBreen via Getty Images
    When To Eat: 90 minutes before bedtime
    How Much: 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon honey

    Heart-healthy oatmeal may already be your breakfast of choice, but it might be time to flip flop your routine. Oats are one of the few foods that contain melatonin, a.k.a. the “Dracula of hormones,” which helps you fall asleep each night by relaxing the body after the sun sets. Melatonin production decreases as we age, which is why more seniors suffer from insomnia and why it’s important to combat sleeplessness by eating melatonin-rich foods.

    Add some warm milk, which contains melatonin and tryptophan – the amino acid found in turkey that makes us sleepy – and stir in a teaspoon of honey, which is a natural relaxant – and you’ve got a perfectly healthful bedtime treat to help lull you off to dreamland.
  • Banana with almonds
    When To Eat: 90 minutes before bedtime<br>
How Much: 1/2 medium banana and 23 almonds (approx. 1 ounce)
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Chock full o
    Tastyart Ltd Rob White via Getty Images
    When To Eat: 90 minutes before bedtime
    How Much: 1/2 medium banana and 23 almonds (approx. 1 ounce)

    Chock full of potassium, which stimulates slow-wave sleep (a.k.a. deep sleep) according to new research, and sleep-inducing magnesium, bananas are the veritable superstars of sleep! Couple them with almonds also loaded with magnesium and tryptophan, and you’ve got a delicious snack that will help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
  • Tart cherry juice
    When To Drink: One glass in the morning and one glass two hours before bed<br>
How Much: 8 ounces
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Similar to oats, s
    Shaiith via Getty Images
    When To Drink: One glass in the morning and one glass two hours before bed
    How Much: 8 ounces

    Similar to oats, sour cherries contain the highest amount of naturally-occurring melatonin compared to any other food. In fact, research from the Journal of Medicinal Food shows that drinking a glass of tart cherry juice before bed can combat age-related insomnia by helping your body drift off to sleep.
  • Rice and beans
    When To Eat: With dinner or at least 4 hours before bedtime<br>
How Much: 1/2 cup cooked rice and 1/2 cup cooked beans
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    John Rodriguez via Getty Images
    When To Eat: With dinner or at least 4 hours before bedtime
    How Much: 1/2 cup cooked rice and 1/2 cup cooked beans

    Legumes, like cow peas and lentils, are rich in magnesium, folic acid, potassium, and B vitamins, all of which help regulate your circadian rhythm. Adding a high glycemic carbohydrate, like Jasmine rice, will help you fall asleep faster thanks to a sugar spike and subsequent fall. In other words, the rice will help you hit the hay, and the legumes will keep you asleep throughout the night
  • Cheese and crackers
    When To Eat: At least 30 minutes before bedtime<br>
How Much: 2/3 ounce cheese and 2-3 small crackers<br><br>

If you’re look
    MSPhotographic via Getty Images
    When To Eat: At least 30 minutes before bedtime
    How Much: 2/3 ounce cheese and 2-3 small crackers

    If you’re looking for a light snack, a few bites of cheese coupled with whole-grain crackers can help manage sleep cycles by boosting serotonin and melatonin levels. Even though they’re in the same family, cheese doesn’t induce shut-eye quite like warm milk, but its high calcium and tryptophan content help the body de-stress and relax while stimulating melatonin production.

    Research conducted by the British Cheese Board even found that eating cheese may induce vivid dreams. What’s more, the type of cheese you eat may determine what kind of dream you have. For example, cheddar lovers’ more likely dream of celebrities, while smelly Stilton fans experience more bizarre and wacky dreams.
  • Sweet potato with dark, leafy greens
    When To Eat: At least 90 minutes before bed<br>
How Much: 1 medium sweet potato and 1/2 cup cooked greens
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When sweet
    jo.schz/Flickr
    When To Eat: At least 90 minutes before bed
    How Much: 1 medium sweet potato and 1/2 cup cooked greens

    When sweet potatoes and dark, leafy greens – like Swiss chard and spinach – combine, they create a potassium powerhouse that will help your body get that super restorative deep sleep it needs to stay active during the day.
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