How well do you really sleep? If you are like many Americans, not that great. Among those things which can help you sleep besides Ambien and other potentially REM robbing medications, are certain foods. Yes, that’s right foods. You probably have had quite enough of all the fuss about cutting down on your total calories, especially carbs.

Well, it turns out that certain carbohydrates-that is complex carbs may actually promote sleep. These user friendly foods are digested slowly in contrast to the well known bad boy simple carbs such as corn syrup, fructose and corn starch. Complex carbs are found among many foods such as  turkey, oatmeal, and multigrain cereals. The carbs are broken down and help transport another substance called serotonin to the brain. Serotonin promotes sleep. Why does everyone fall asleep right after that huge Thanksgiving meal? It’s not that whopping portion of apple pie a la mode, nor is it the gravy piled high on just about everything. No, it’s the turkey, which along with peas and eggs shares a quality of having a lot of tryptophan.  This very difficult to spell word represents a protein which the brain converts to  a sleep promoter and easier to spell serotonin.

High protein foods such as red meat do exactly the opposite-that is, they require heavy duty digestion and when the gut is busy, the brain stays up. Caffeine is an obvious no no, but did you know that a couple of squares of a chocolate bar contain as much caffeine as a cup of coffee? Anything that says energy on it such as energy drinks usually contain high protein and often has caffeine as well.

While a little nightcap might sound inviting, the alcohol within will probably wake you several times and your sleep will more than likely be REM (restful sleep) deprived.

By the way hold, off on the late night chowdown. You should try to make dinner smaller and earlier, which will allow your digestive system to mellow out before the sleep begins. And don’t even think of opening that half gallon container of Ben and Jerrys.  Fatty foods are also hard to digest. You could however eat some dried cherries, which for some unknown reason contain quite a tryptophan.

If you follow this advice, then you will increase your odds of having restful sleep and with a good night’s sleep will help keep your weight at reasonable levels.