Ah, yes. Elusive sleep.
You may have noticed that as you get older, you get less rest at night and feel more tired during the day. One reason may be due to melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the brain and helps a variety of things for men and women, including your internal time clock–like when we fall asleep and when we wake up.
At nighttime, melatonin production goes up. When it becomes light, your melatonin production decreases. This “circadian cycle” is what causes us to sleep and wake.
Although there is some controversy surrounding age and melatonin, it does appear that the body’s ability to secrete the same amount of melatonin, or at least at the same potency, decreases as we age.
According to Dr. Oz, “As you get older, you also lose some of the oomph you get from melatonin, which may explain why so many of us suffer aging-related sleep and health problems. In fact, melatonin production peaks around age 5 and starts a downhill slide from there.”
Oz goes on to say that we can lose as much as 80% of those levels as we get older, which can account for our inability to get a good night’s sleep.
There are melatonin supplements that you can take, but there are also foods that contain melatonin or tryptophan, which can help you sleep better.
Dr. Sears states, “Tryptophan is a precursor of the sleep-inducing substances serotonin and melatonin … Making more tryptophan available, either by eating foods that contain this substance or by seeing to it that more tryptophan gets to the brain, will help to make you sleepy.”
According to Dr. Sears, the best things to eat at bedtime are complex carbohydrates with a small amount of protein and some calcium.
Fresh, dried or even cherry juice can help you sleep because it contains natural levels of melatonin.
2. Oatmeal with Milk.
Oatmeal contains melatonin, while milk contains tryptophan. If you combine the two right before bedtime, you may just find yourself resting better.
Bananas also contain tryptophan and are also natural muscle relaxants, helping to get you into that relaxed state for a good night’s sleep.
Remember when your grandmother used to give you warm milk to help you sleep? Well, there may be something to it. Dairy, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and even ice cream, contain tryptophan, releasing serotonin for sleep.