Superfoods, Better Moods

Fix Your Health Problems With Food

night-snack
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Problem: I'm tossing and turning

Food fix #1: Have a late-night morsel

We've all been told to avoid eating too close to bedtime, but applying this rule too strictly could actually contribute to sleep woes. As anyone who has tried a fast knows, hunger can make you feel edgy, and animal studies confirm this. "You need to be relaxed to fall asleep, and having a grumbling stomach is a distraction," explains Kelly Glazer Baron, PhD, an instructor of neurology at Northwestern University and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "It makes it hard to get to sleep and wakes you up at night."

The trick is to tame the munchies 30 minutes to an hour before bed with a small snack that includes complex carbohydrates. "Since you metabolize sugars more slowly at night, a complex carb like whole wheat is a better choice," Baron says. "It keeps your blood sugar levels even." Try cheese and whole-wheat crackers or almonds and a banana.

Food fix #2: Add cherries

You can boost your snack's snooze power by washing it down with a glass of tart cherry juice. A recent study of folks with chronic insomnia found that those who downed 8 ounces of juice made from tart Montmorency cherries (available in most grocery stores) one to two hours before bedtime stayed asleep longer than those who drank a placebo juice.

These sour powerhouses—which you can eat fresh, dried or juiced—possess anti-inflammatory properties that may stimulate the production of cytokines, a type of immune-system molecule that helps regulate sleep. Tart cherries are also high in melatonin, a hormone that signals the body to go to sleep and stay that way.

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