Foods That Cause Sleepiness

In addition to providing energy and nutrients, certain foods and eating habits can induce sleepiness. If you're prone to anxiety or sleep difficulties, foods that promote sleepiness can heighten calmness, making it easier to rest with ease.

Certain foods can make you sleepy. (Image: demaerre/iStock/GettyImages)

If staying alert and energized is your goal, the same foods might best suit your "avoid" list. Gaining understanding of sleep-related foods can help guide you toward making wise dietary decisions. For best results, seek specified guidance from your doctor or dietitian.

Refined Starches

Starches, such as breads, cereal and pasta, provide rich amounts of carbohydrates — your body's main dietary source of energy. Ironically, high-carb foods can also trigger sleepiness, according to Joanne Larsen, a registered dietitian and host of the online dietary question-and-answer-community Ask the Dietitian.

Starches based on refined grains, such as white flour, provide less protein and fiber, and have a greater impact on your blood sugar compared with whole grains. As a result, refined starches are more likely to lead to sluggishness and tiredness associated with low blood sugar. If you have diabetes, your risk for low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia, is increased.

Added Sugars

Added sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar, add sweet flavor and calories, but few nutrients, to foods. Like refined grains, added sugars are high-glycemic, meaning they have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

After eating a high-glycemic meal, your blood sugar rises higher than it does following a low-glycemic meal. Energy decline, commonly called a "crash," often follows. To avoid this risk, pair sugary foods, such as candy, soft drinks and sweetened cereals, with low-glycemic foods, such as low-fat milk, whole grains or nuts.

Dairy Products

The amino acid tryptophan, which is prevalent in various foods, can induce sleepiness. Carbs help your brain access and use tryptophan. Dairy products, such as low-fat milk and yogurt, contain tryptophan and carbs, making them a valuable bedtime snack option. For added carb benefits, pair your milk with cereal and top yogurt with granola.

Potatoes, Bananas and Beans

Baked potatoes with skin intact, bananas and beans, such as soy, also contain valuable amounts of tryptophan and carbohydrates. Tryptophan also helps your brain produce the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, according to Health Information News, leading to improved moods and a lowered risk for depression.

If low moods tend to interfere with your sleeping capabilities, potatoes, bananas and other tryptophan sources might provide exceptional benefits.

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