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Eat well to sleep well

In order to be fit and healthy, your body needs good nutrition during more than just your waking hours. 

Good nutrition plays an important role in dealing with how sleep patterns change as you age. Many people experience sleep issues during their 40s or 50s. For women, menopause and perimenopause are often factors that can lead to sleepless nights such as hormonal fluctuations, causing hot flashes and sleep disruptions. 

The recommendations on how to address these issues are so individualized that it's important to talk to a health care professional. But, generally, what you eat throughout the day can have a positive impact on your overall energy, mood and ability to achieve restorative sleep. Good nutrition and good sleep go hand in hand.

Here are five tips to help you eat well to sleep well:

1. Be careful with alcohol
Alcoholic beverages can disrupt sleep and cause next-day fatigue. If you do have an alcoholic beverage, follow it with a glass of water to help rehydrate your body.

2. Choose food and drink that help maintain serotonin 
Known as the "deep sleep neurotransmitter," serotonin is depleted by alcohol, sugar, stress, caffeine and processed foods. If you are having trouble sleeping, avoid caffeinated beverages after lunch. 

3. Eat more magnesium-rich foods
Magnesium is necessary for your body to process serotonin. Vitamins C and B6 as well as folic acid are also needed to synthesize serotonin. Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables; whole grains; and nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds to boost your magnesium levels. 

4. Incorporate nutrient-rich foods that give your body tryptophan
An essential amino acid and a precursor of serotonin, tryptophan needs the help of complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley or yams. Tryptophan rich foods include cheese, yogurt, eggs, poultry, meat, fish, and nuts such as pecans, almonds and walnuts. 

5. Try a cup of tea or a calming scent before bedtime.
Certain teas like chamomile or scents like lavender may help calm the body before bedtime. A melatonin supplement also may help you fall asleep. Be sure to talk with a health care professional before taking any supplements.


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