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Better Sleep

To cure or ease insomnia, it is best to eat your biggest meal of the day first, with breakfast. Dinner should be the smallest meal of the day. Eating a large meal raises body temperature and heart rate, both of which interfere with relaxation and sleep.

You’ve probably heard that a glass of warm milk at the end of the day can cure insomnia. There’s something to that nugget of conventional wisdom. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that’s also a natural sedative. Other tryptophan-containing foods include turkey (which is why Thanksgiving is so exhausting), cheese and tuna. Calcium may have a calming effect on the nervous system—yet another reason to eat that milk or cheese.

If you are sensitive to monosodium glutamate, a food additive that enhances flavors, eating MSG-containing foods can spur insomnia. Try cutting MSG out of your diet—this means steering clear of processed foods.

Avoid caffeinated beverages in the three hours before your bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and can interfere with sleep.

Supplements containing melatonin (a hormone derivative of tryptophan) may prevent insomnia, especially insomnia caused by jet lag. Do not take overlarge melatonin supplements (over 0.5 mg), such as those found in “melatonin brownies.” Melatonin should not be taken by people with liver disease, as it is broken down by the liver. It may interact with some depression medications. See a doctor before taking melatonin.

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