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6 Remedies for Sleep Problems—Do They Work?

By Rachel Johnson, Ph.D, M.P.H., R.D., March/April 2008

Can anything we eat or drink help? Here’s what the science says.


READER'S COMMENT:
"pls help me on this sleepless nites, i m 27 weeks pregnant. I do not sleep more than 5 hour full. My sleeping patern is broken into 3- 4 hours than i m awake "

1. Drink some warm milk before bedtime

Decades ago, scientists looked into this folk remedy and posited that tryptophan, an amino acid in milk (and turkey), might be responsible for its supposed sleep-inducing effects. Earlier research had shown that when tryptophan is released into the brain, it produces serotonin—a serenity-boosting neurotransmitter. But when milk (and other tryptophan-rich foods) were tested, they failed to affect sleep patterns. “Tryptophan-containing foods don’t produce the hypnotic effects pure tryptophan does, because other amino acids in those foods compete to get into the brain,” explains Art Spielman, M.D., an insomnia expert and professor of psychology at the City University of New York. Warm milk at bedtime may be comforting, but it won’t boost sleep-promoting serotonin.

Next: 2. Have a bedtime snack »



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