By Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD |

Sleep has a lot in common with that other popular bedroom activity most of us would love to have a little more of.

Getting enough sleep, just like sex, has been proved to extend your life. Less than 6 hours of sleep a night increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and viral infections. Getting 6½ to 7½ hours can make your RealAge up to 3 years younger.

Humans die faster without sleep than they do without food. Fortunately, food may hold the solution to getting the ZZZs you need. A couple of hours before bedtime, curl up with one of these snacks. All are able to get your brain to release sleep-friendly chemicals that help you nod off like a baby.

  1. Almonds: A handful contains muscle-relaxing magnesium and sleep-inducing tryptophan, which increases the brain’s level of feel-good serotonin.
  2. Bananas: Beneath the peel is a trifecta of soothers: not only serotonin and magnesium but also melatonin, your body’s natural sleep regulator.
  3. Skim milk:  A warm glassful will help you snooze. Could be the mild sedating effect of milk’s tryptophan, or its calcium, which helps your brain use tryptophan. Or maybe it’s just calming your thoughts.
  4. Oatmeal: Oats are rich in sleep-regulating melatonin. If you drizzle just a little honey on top, it tells your brain to turn off orexin, a neuropeptide linked to alertness.
  5. Whole-wheat bread: A slice of toast dotted with banana slices releases insulin, which helps tryptophan get to your brain, where it changes into serotonin and whispers “Sweet dreams.”