Can't sleep? Forget sleep aids! Snack on these 6 healthy foods that promote deep sleep to kick sleep problems to the curb.
Best Food When You Need Sleep #1: Nonfat Popcorn
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The carbohydrates in nonfat popcorn help bring the amino acid tryptophan into your brain, where it's used to make a sleep-inducing neurotransmitter called serotonin. Since eating a heavy meal within two hours of bedtime can keep you awake, low-calorie popcorn (just 93 calories in three cups popped) is a great late-night snack. Choose plain, fat-free popcorn and jazz it up with some curry powder.
Best Food When You Need Sleep #2: Halibut
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Halibut is packed with two building blocks for better sleep: tryptophan and vitamin B6, which has a mild flavor and meaty texture that appeals to finicky seafood eaters. Other foods high in tryptophan include poultry, beef, soybeans, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts and eggs. ("Milk" can mean a lot of different things these days. Check out this guide to find the best milk for you.)
Best Food When You Need Sleep #3: Dried Tart Cherries
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A handful of dried cherries not only provides the requisite serotonin-boosting carbs, it's also one of few food sources of melatonin, which has been found to promote better sleep and lessen the effects of jet lag. Plus, tart cherries are packed with age-fighting antioxidants. (See more secrets to looking younger longer.)
Best Food When You Need Sleep #4: Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
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High-fiber garbanzo beans are rich in vitamin B6, which your body uses to produce serenity-boosting serotonin. Try adding garbanzo beans to salads, soups and stews when you need sleep. Or use this easy recipe for spiced red-pepper hummus to have a healthy snack on hand when you can't sleep.
Best Food When You Need Sleep #5: Chamomile Tea
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This herbal tea lacks the caffeine found in traditional teas, and it has a calming effect on the body. (That's why it's one of our favorite ingredients for these DIY spa treatments.) Also, a warm liquid before bed can make you sleepy by raising body heat.
Best Food When You Need Sleep #6: Honey
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A rise in blood sugar can reduce the production of orexin in the brain. Orexin is a recently discovered neurotransmitter that's been linked to wakefulness. Try drizzling a small amount of honey in your chamomile tea. A different route to sleep: Keep dessert low in sugar. Try these low-calorie dessert recipes.