Stressful, busy days can make it difficult to shut out the world and get some shut-eye, an issue millions of Americans deal with nightly. Plenty of celebs, including Drew Barrymore and Eminem, have admitted to battling insomnia and even teen queen Miley Cyrus recently tweeted, "I have just diagnosed myself. I am an insomniac."
Whether you're in show biz or not, any kind of hectic schedule can leave you physically exhausted, but still mentally stimulated. After getting medical treatment for insomnia in 2008, "Grey's Anatomy" star Justin Chambers told People magazine, "Your mind keeps racing, and your body is tired. It wants to go to sleep, but it can't."
Eminem has spoken publicly about his battle with insomnia. - Deano/Splash NewsMiley Cyrus recently tweeted, "I have just diagnosed myself. I am an insomniac.” - PacificCoastNews.com
Though you might want to reach for that sleeping pill to knock yourself out, there are more natural ways to get some rest. Nutritionist Kelly Aronica shared some tips — including foods to reach for and ones to avoid — on how to ease yourself into a gentle and peaceful slumber without the morning grogginess of sleeping pills.
"There's definitely a connection between carbs and the release of serotonin, your body's feel-good hormone, in the brain," says Aronica. "So a snack within an hour of bedtime that's mostly carbohydrates with a little protein can boost serotonin levels."
Aronica suggests trying a small snack like toast with peanut butter, half an egg salad sandwich, or some of the sweet and savory ideas below.
Oatmeal with Milk or Walnuts: A good snack to have before bedtime because it combines carbohydrates with protein.
Yogurt: A great food because it's about half carbohydrates and half protein.
Hummus: Eat this with some pita for a perfect mix of both protein from the chickpeas and carbohydrates from the bread.
Warm Milk: Besides the tryptophan, there's also the soothing aspect of sipping a warm beverage.
Bananas: Contain tryptophan, melatonin, serotonin, and magnesium, which can act as a muscle relaxant. Try them with some peanut butter and toast.
Turkey: While it's a well-known source of tryptophan, almost any type of poultry contains similar amounts. Try eating half a turkey or chicken sandwich.
Potatoes: Contain both tryptophan and carbohydrates, so eating some as a small snack before bed could help you sleep.
Almonds: Have both tryptophan and magnesium, so you could also try adding some to your oatmeal.
Tart Cherries: Contain melatonin, which helps regulate sleep. These are the sour ones used in pies, not the sweet Bing cherries that you can eat plain.
Foods to Avoid: Caffeine, spicy foods, heavy meals, or alcohol right before bed. Some medications may contain caffeine too, so check your prescription. Try avoiding all caffeinated beverages after 1 p.m. Even a 3 p.m. pick-me-up could still be causing sleep trouble at night. As for alcohol, though people think of it as a sedative and it does cause an immediate drowsiness, it leads to poor quality sleep that won't leave you rested.
Gas-producing foods might cause some people to lose sleep too. Everyone's sensitivity to these foods is different, but try avoiding common gas-producing foods like apples, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, legumes, lentils, split peas, and green peppers after lunch time. Also, the size of the meal can impact sleep, so a big dinner could cause sleep disturbances. If getting to sleep is an issue, make your biggest meal at midday and have a lighter dinner.