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.

"For years I have woken at around 2-3 am. I am usually awake for hours, 2-4. I used to try to get comfy and follow my breathing, dream about a warm island holiday etc, hoping to drop off. But I find it is my mind that keeps me awake with...

2. Have a bedtime snack

A light bedtime snack can stave off hunger, a known sleep robber. But eating high-glycemic-index (GI) carbohydrates—hours earlier at dinner—might also help. (High-GI foods cause a greater rise in blood sugar and insulin than do lower-GI foods.) A recent paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when healthy sleepers ate carbohydrate-rich suppers of veggies and tomato sauce over rice, they fell asleep significantly faster at bedtime if the meal included high-GI jasmine rice rather than lower-GI long-grain rice. While the authors aren’t sure how it happened, they speculated that the greater amounts of insulin triggered by the high-GI meals increased the ratio of tryptophan relative to other amino acids in the blood, allowing proportionately more to get into the brain. Save high-GI carbs for dinnertime, when their side effect—drowsiness—is a plus.

Next: 3. Drink herbal tea »

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