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More than 70 million Americans suffer from intermittent or chronic sleep problems. If you’re one of them, your diet may be to blame. Here are a few foods proven to help you grab some Zs:

Carbohydrates boost serotonin, a hormone that helps you feel calm, peaceful and even sleepy.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that has been shown to have a sleep-inducing effect. Present in turkey, chicken, pork, cheese, milk and eggs, the sleep aid is most effective when consumed on an empty stomach without the interference of other amino acids and proteins.

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that controls the body’s sleep and wake cycles. Found in cherries, oats, sweet corn, rice and nuts, melatonin may help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle when included in your regular diet.

Also be aware of the times you are eating. Avoid food right before bedtime, as it can lead to indigestion and even acid reflux. Give your body at least three hours before bed to properly digest dinner, particularly if it’s a heavy meal. This helps you absorb the nutrients you need, discard the stuff you don’t and avoid costly medical repercussions.

SOURCE:

Women, Spring 2011

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From Broadway to cooking and health, stay tuned for another jam-packed episode of The Balancing Act.

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