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5 Unexpected Foods That Prevent Insomnia and 5 Foods That Promote It

Beyond caffeine, what foods should we reach for and avoid in order to fall asleep?
 
 
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You've heard it a thousand times: if you want to fall asleep you have to give up caffeine. So you've done that and you still can't seem to sleep through the night. Well, your diet has a huge bearing on the way you feel especially if a sleep deficiency has become a part of your life. Choose foods that promote sleep rather than keeping you up all night.

Foods To Prevent Insomnia

1. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium which serves to calm the body down. Magnesium helps to relieve the stress that can keep us up all night. Just 1 oz. of pumpkin seeds has 151 mg of magnesium, making it one of the most magnesium-rich foods out there.

2. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese contains tryptophan, a sleep inducing amino acid that relaxes the entire body and mind. If you don't do dairy you can also find tryptophan in soy milk, tofu, hummus, and lentils.

3. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are rich in trytophan but they're also high in carbohydrates with a medium protein content, perfect for before bedtime.

4. Brown Rice

Whole unrefined grains like brown rice have a calming effect on the mind. They soothe the nervous system so that the mind stops moving a mile a minute and you can fall asleep. Also consider oats for a similar effect.

5. Spinach

Chlorophyll-rich foods like spinach help you get to sleep. Spinach, like pumpkin seeds, is also loaded with magnesium, which calms and de-stresses the entire body.

5 Foods that Promote Insomnia

1. Refined Carbohydrates

These drain the body of vitamin B, which the body needs to release serotonin. When the body can't get enough serotonin, tension, fear, and depression can keep you up all night.

2. MSG

Monosodium glutamate (MSG), often found in Chinese food, causes a stimulant reaction in some people. MSG is almost always found in processed, prepared, and packaged foods. Here's a list of surprising places that MSG hides.

3. Bacon

Bacon contains tyramine, which increases the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant that keeps you up. Others foods that contain tyramine include chocolate, eggplant, ham, potatoes, sauerkraut, sugar, sausage, tomatoes, and wine.

4. Alcohol

While many of us drink to relax the body and mind, the fact of the matter is that wine, beer, and spirits can keep you up at night. This is especially true if you drink more than one. While alcohol can make you tired in the short run, you're likely to awaken in the middle of the night.

5. Chocolate

Chocolate can elevate your energy levels with bioactive compounds like tyramine and phenylethylamine. Chocolate also contains sugar which wakes you up as well as the other obvious culprit, caffeine.

Beyond your diet, yoga is another great way to help you sleep. Here are some yoga and meditation practices to keep you calm and collected.

Sara Novak is a writer specializing in food, travel, and nature for Planet Green and TreeHugger.

 
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