Special Report

Can't Sleep? Try These Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

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6. Watch what you have for dinner

There are some foods containing amino acids that help produce melatonin, a hormone in the body that regulates sleep, but the difference is not dramatic, according to Laliotis. It’s more important to avoid processed foods and sugar, which can interfere with blood sugar levels, he explained.

High blood sugar leads to the kidneys working hard to eliminate it through urine, which means you’re probably waking up at night to go to the bathroom. Don’t eat any fatty foods or big meals before bedtime either, Smith said. “Eating high-fat, heavy foods that require extra effort to digest interrupts this restorative process.”

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7. Snack on certain foods

Eating a healthy, balanced diet provides the body with the nutrients it needs to achieve a good night’s rest, Smith said. “People who have trouble sleeping should add tryptophan, calcium and magnesium-rich foods to their diet.” These foods include leafy vegetables, tuna, eggs, whole grains, bananas, and pistachios, according to Smith.

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8. Don’t drink alcohol in the evening

Alcohol is a depressant, Laliotis explained. It wears off in the middle of the night and that uncomfortable feeling wakes people up. “The brain wave patterns of a sleeping person who drank at night are the same as [the brain wave patterns] in the middle of the day.” Some types of alcohol are also high in sugar, raising your blood sugar level and keeping you awake.

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9. Keep the same bedtime routine, even on weekends

People struggling with sleep should really do their best to stick to the same bedtime hours, sleep experts say. This is how they will program their internal clock, which starts ticking in the morning. The time people go to bed is affected by the time they wake up, Shukla explained. The more bedtime hours vary from night to night, the harder it becomes for the body to fall asleep when you try to.

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10. Make the room very dark

Circadian rhythm, which is basically the body’s internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals, responds to light, Tal noted. When any light hits the eyes, it stimulates a nerve pathway to the brain, and wakefulness hormones are produced, he explained.

Artificial light tricks the body into slowing its production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep, which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, Smith explained. “Even light from an alarm clock can have an effect on sleep quality, so it’s best to eliminate [it] as much as possible.”