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Jan 23, 2013 08:35 PM

Foods to help you sleep?

No, I'm not talking about stuffing yourself into a food coma, or the oft-mentioned Tryptophan.

Rather, I'm thinking about foods that tend to have a soothing, relaxing effect on you (other than alcohol).

Anything you like to eat or drink that puts you in the mood to hit the sack (Platonically, of course).

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  1. Good Scotch, old and single malt.

    It's not alcohol- it's magic.

    3 Replies
    1. re: biggreenmatt

      Well, you're preaching to the choir on that one. Love me some Talisker 18, or a Highland Park 30 if I really had an itch to scratch.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I am having a MaCallan 18 right now. I have some 12 as a back up. I like the Highland Park and Lagavullen but have to be in the mood for all that peat.

      2. re: biggreenmatt


        A review of all studies involving normal volunteers has clarified that alcohol shortens the time it takes to fall asleep, increases deep sleep, and reduces REM sleep.

      3. It's hard to differentiate if this is normally the food itself or the food coma... but for some reason I feel I get tired after a big, juicy steak (but I REALLLLLY think this is food coma induced). Pho and it's MSG actually gets me sleepy too, though this also might be MSG induced.

        Can't really say anything else really puts me to sleep. Why not just dinner with a nice glass of wine? Or even a snack and a glass of wine?

        2 Replies
        1. re: darrentran87

          Dinner and wine just doesn't do it for me. I'm one of those people that have trouble falling asleep ...

          1. re: ipsedixit

            In that case, perhaps something warm and "comforting"... ie comfort foods (chili, chicken noodle soup, a squash soup?)?

            I googled "serotinin" and got this site:


            maybe that will help?

            Good luck

          1. re: Fowler

            You'll find as much cheese in my house as you will Groupon coupon codes for the iPhone 5.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I have never used a Groupon, Groupon code or an iPhone 5 so your response regarding how cheese relates to those items perplexes me.

              1. re: Fowler

                It's my way of saying I don't eat or like cheese, with a poor attempt at humor mixed into it. Sorry.

                1. re: Fowler

                  I think the Groupon outfit deliberately chose that name because it sounds like a contraction of Grey Poupon. Also, once you do an e-mail with Groupon they will infest your Inbox forever and ever.

              2. re: Fowler

                I prefer the insane dreams that come with blue cheese.

                1. re: kengk

                  Aha- you may have just solved a mystery for me.

                  1. re: EWSflash

                    I thought my crazy dreams came from all the LSD and mescaline I took as a youngster. Could they be food related?

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      I'm a firm believer in the cheesy dream theory. Eat a big hunk of some blue cheese close to bed time one night...

              3. Chai masala.

                Indian take-out.

                Any big Chinese meal, dine-in or take-out, makes me sleepy, and sometimes triggers a food coma.


                Rice pudding.

                1 Reply
                1. re: prima

                  Indian take-out, seconded. Chicken tikka masala and some naan and I just want to pass out.

                2. Bananas.

                  The husband and I have been experimenting with bananas the last week or so. We sleep better when we eat a banana an hour or so before bedtime.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: LMAshton

                    To the extent that there has been any real change in your sleep, it's pure placebo. The tryptophan in bananas is minimal, there's limited (if any) evidence that dietary levels affect blood serum levels of tryptophan, it then it has to be metabolised (via 5-HTP) to serotonin before there might be any conceivable effect, and serotonin either has no effect on sleep, or does so only in serotonin-deficient individuals.

                    1. re: mugen

                      Right. Because a. tryptophan is the only thing possible to help a person sleep. b. you're an expert on what is real or not with my sleep.

                      1. re: LMAshton

                        Oh sorry - I was discounting the effect of the 0.5% magic pixie dust content in the bananas.

                        Facts: who needs 'em?

                        1. re: mugen

                          Bananas are a good source of magnesium, which is also important for sleep regulation. In fact, chronic insomnia is one of the primary symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            Yup on mag. It helps relax tense muscles.

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              Too bad the mind isn't a muscle. I seem to have an over active, albeit a tiny and underdeveloped, one.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Shiiiiiit! You 'da MENSAMAN - your rolling pin doubles as a slide rule...

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  It's not the size that matters ipse, it's how you use it.

                                  Magnesium does more than relax muscles. It also improves neural plasticity and helps regulate neurotransmitter function and electrical activity in the brain.

                        2. re: mugen

                          Nothing wrong with placebos...

                          Actually, everything's *right* with them.

                          1. re: latindancer


                            I wish they would bottle "placebo effect" so that I can buy some and take it on demand.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              Agreed - my problem is with stubborn, wishful ignorance - and my spidey-sense told me that I'd receive that reaction before I posted.

                              1. re: mugen

                                Is there something wrong with allowing a person to *believe* what they're doing to sleep is okay?
                                My line of thinking is simple. Whether it's right or wrong, according to studies, a woman or man whose seratonin levels decrease as we age (pretty solid evidence to be correct) should be able to find comfort in the foods they 'think' help us sleep.
                                Complex carbohydrates, one of them being bananas, when eaten with dairy, will actually stimulate the release of insulin which makes it alot easier for the tryptophan in my milk to work. I think I'm more apt to listen to advice from a doctor with a degree in psychiatry, who specializes in pharmacology and nutrition & who has a clear understanding of their patient who can't sleep.

                          2. re: LMAshton


                            I am a long distance runner and when I first really started getting into the sport I had terrible lower leg cramps that kept me awake at night. Someone suggested I start eating bananas (maybe for the potassium?). So on the days I would run I ate one after dinner. Sure enough, no more leg cramps and that definitely helped me sleep better.

                            1. re: Fowler

                              I had bad leg cramps during both of my pregnancies and the doctor suggested eating bananas to help. Didn't much but it was something to try.

                              For the OP, no magic foods to suggest. I use melatonin when I travel east and have to get up and be brilliant the next day. Herbal tea sipped after taking the melatonin can help to relax.

                            2. re: LMAshton

                              Might be the magnesium content in the bananas. Google brings up a Livestrong site article on this, complete with references. Who knew that "magic pixie dust" was actually magnesium... ;)

                              1. re: eepi

                                The first study is irrelevant: it relates to those with restless leg syndrome.

                                The second combined magnesium with 5mg of melatonin, which confounds any results specific to magnesium.

                                There are a couple of other studies that suggest that magnesium might assist with sleep, but they appear to be qualified by or limited to studies of magnesium-deficiency in the elderly. There is one from 1980 that found improved sleep in infants, but again: the evidence is limited.