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Foods that battle sleepless nights

In the midst of midterm season, I find myself having more difficulty sleeping. Between stress from all my commitments — work, the newspaper, an internship and midterm research papers — my hours of sleep have gone from eight solid hours to four hours of tossing and turning. I’ve begun to notice my attention in class has also become spacey; numerous times my head has bobbed from drowsiness. By noon, it feels like it should be naptime.

In an effort to save my grades from falling, I researched different foods and drinks to help me maximize my sleeping hours. Reader’s Digest has become my best friend in discovering which foods and beverages help induce sleep. Foods that have magnesium, tryptophan and calcium manufacture melatonin that helps the body fall asleep faster. According to Life Extension, tryptophan is an amino acid that regulates the serotonin levels in the brain, which helps mood, sleep and anxiety.

Foods that contain calcium like milk, cheese, yogurt and kale are great for battling sleepless nights. According to Medical News Today, a study done by the European Neurology Journal states that calcium deficiency corresponds to the “absence of rapid eye movement (REM) deep sleep or disturbed REM sleep.” Based on WebMD, REM sleep is an important sleep level that happens 5 to 10 minutes after a person falls asleep. It allows the sleeper’s muscles to relax and the brain to dream vividly.

Magnesium enriched foods like almonds and bananas are also great for sleeping. Magnesium helps the sleeper experience a deeper, and less interrupted sleep. In Medical News Today, James F. Balch M.D., author of “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” states that having low calcium and magnesium levels will cause a sleeper to wake up after only a few hours and have difficulty falling back to sleep.

Beverages like cherry juice, chamomile tea and passion fruit tea are great before bed because they relax the nerves and muscles. Chamomile tea in particular acts as a mild sedative due to its increase in glycine. When drinking the teas, adding honey will give a good boost to helping a sleeper have a restful sleep. Reader’s Digest nutritionist Lindsey Duncan says that honey “slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain easier.” Stay away from caffeinated beverages like coffee, green tea, soda and energy drinks. Although those drinks help with staying up, it is highly advised to drink them earlier in the day and chamomile tea a couple hours before bed.

Since I’ve begun eating and drinking these kinds of things, I have begun noticing a difference in my sleep, and my alertness in class. Slowly but surely my sleep will go back to those lovely eight hours of dreamful bliss.