Cherries and Grapes
Many of us are aware that eating or drinking some food products hinders our ability to sleep. Coffee contains caffeine and should be avoided later in the day. Chocolate also contains caffeine and should also be avoided. Spicy foods can cause digestive problems, including heartburn and gas. For a good night’s sleep, eat these foods in the afternoon or early evening.
But what about foods that promote sleep? Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, but it’s also found in some foods, including milk, turkey, oats, bananas and other grain products. If you’re looking for a healthy bedtime snack that won’t keep you awake and, instead, will help you sleep, try some of these.
Recent research has discovered that two other foods are high in melatonin. The first of these is cherries. This fruit is healthful in so many ways, It’s high in antioxidants, is a good anti-inflammatory and can even give you a healthy skin. This recent discovery just adds “the cherry” to the top of all the other benefits.
Although the raw foot is delicious and rich in melatonin, the tart cherry juice is the best way to benefit from all the health-inducing goodness.
The second food is grapes, and in particular, the skins of grapes used to make wine. The best grapes include Merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Although white wines may be as pleasant to the palate, they contain no skins, so very little melatonin.
Wine, however, contains alcohol, and over consumption should be avoided. Only a small amount is needed to get the sleep inducing properties of melatonin. Alcohol does induce sleep, but large amounts lead to sleep disruption later in the night. The sleeper may experience awakenings, nightmares and even sleepwalking, and will almost surely suffer the headachy, sick feelings of a hangover in the morning.
Melatonin is available over-the-counter as a supplement. However, used in this manner, it can cause side effects including headache, depression, and even the sleeplessness you are trying to cure.
Try eating more of the melatonin-rich foods, especially as bedtime snacks. Try a glass of cherry juice or of milk, and have a small glass of Chianti with your evening meal.
Florence wrote for HealthCentral as patient expert for Sleep Disorders.