If you suffer from insomnia or interrupted sleep, perhaps a few dietary changes could help you snooze through the night.

Did you know that certain nutrients, foods, and eating patterns can have a great effect on your ability to get a good night’s sleep?

For instance, a lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium can cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep. Calcium has a calming effect and magnesium is needed to balance the calcium and relax muscles. A calcium/magnesium supplement can be helpful, however it is important to eat real foods that contain calcium, because they also have magnesium and the other trace minerals needed for its absorption. Vegetable choices should consist of dark green leafy types such as collard greens, kale, cabbage, and broccoli, for their high calcium content. Other food sources for calcium are almonds, asparagus, blackstrap molasses, buttermilk, carob, cheese, figs, filberts, goat’s milk, kelp, mustard greens, oats, prunes, sesame seeds, tofu, turnip greens, watercress, whey, and yogurt.

Which foods you eat and when you eat them can also affect restful sleep.

You should avoid caffeine-containing foods after lunchtime. Coffee, as well as less obvious caffeine sources such as soft drinks, chocolate, coffee-flavored ice cream, hot cocoa, and tea, should not be consumed after lunchtime. Even small amounts of caffeine such as those found in decaffeinated coffee or chocolate, may be enough to cause insomnia in some people. If you suffer from extreme chronic insomnia, caffeine should be completely eliminated from your diet.

For dinner or as an evening snack, choose foods high in the amino acid tryptophan. These include turkey, milk, cottage cheese, chicken, tuna, eggs, almonds, bananas, figs, dates, yogurt, and whole grain crackers or nut butter. In the brain, tryptophan is converted to serotonin and melatonin, which are natural sleep-inducing compounds. Also, did you notice that many of these foods also contain calcium?

Those late-night bacon-cheesburgers or sugary snacks can actually be keeping you awake. Avoid eating bacon, cheese, chocolate, eggplant, ham, potatoes, sauerkraut, sugar, sausage, spinach, tomatoes, and wine close to bedtime. These foods contain tyramine, which increases the release of norepinephrine, which is a brain stimulant.

Drinkingseveral times throughout the day and especially before bedtime, helps calm and tone the nervous system, promoting restful sleep.

Getting a good’s night sleep is imperative to good health. It not only helps your energy levels and alertness, but is also important for weight loss. Making these simple dietary changes can greatly improve your overall health.