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Warm milk and cookies sound like a soothing bedtime snack.  But does what we eat or drink really help us drift off to sleep?

 Many sleep experts and nutritionists believe what you eat can effect how well you sleep. They advise choosing your supper meal and evening snack with care.  The following diet-related tips will have you snoozing soon after your head hits the pillow.

 * Eat dinner/supper earlier rather than later in the evening to give your stomach time to digest the food.

*  Make the last meal of the day a light one. If portions are too large, your digestive system will have to work over time. Eating a large meal may initially make you feel drowsy, but you likely won’t enjoy a restful sleep.

 * Choose foods that won’t cause discomfort while you sleep. Heavy, rich and fatty foods can be hard to    digest. Spicy, highly seasoned or acidic foods can cause heartburn and stomach discomfort.

 * Limit your alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol might make you feel sleepy, but you may not be able to achieve a really deep sleep.

 * Don’t consume too many liquids during the evening;  you’ll be waking frequently to make trips to the bathroom throughout the night.

 * Avoid caffeine. It’s a stimulant, and increases the activity of various body systems including the      nervous system. It can take 8 to 10 hours to eliminate the effects of caffeine from your body.

 * Eat a small snack an hour or two before you go to bed. Going to bed hungry will just keep you awake or even wake you up.

 Try the Nutri Cookie recipe in our special sleep issue (click on the image, left). Served with hot or cold milk, it really will help you sleep! And don’t let Number 7 (or any of his Serta® counting sheep friends) convince you otherwise.

When planning what to eat close to bedtime, opt for foods that contain tryptophan, especially for nighttime snacking. An important amino acid, tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin and melatonin in our brain, two chemicals that help us sleep.

Tryptophan-rich foods include:
* dairy products
* seafood
* meat & poultry
* eggs
* beans
* whole grains & rice
* lentils
* nuts and seeds

Combining carbohydrate-rich foods with a small amount of protein food that contains tryptophan helps make tryptophan available to our brains.

Tryptophan and carbohydrate combinations includes:
* oatmeal cookies & milk
* whole grain cereal & milk
* half a peanut butter or tuna sandwich
* crackers & cheese
* bagel chips & a hard-cooked egg
* yogurt & granola

For more information on the connection between food and sleep, tips on how to develop better sleep habits and a look at our favorite new sleep products, check out our Annual Sleep issue (click on the image, left). 

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