Eat lettuce and lobster
"Lettuce contains lactucarium, which has sedative properties that affect the brain in a way that’s actually similar to opium," Dr. Gentile says. Not too many salads have been known to knock people out, but hey, it sounds kind of great.
Foods containing tryptophan may also help us get to sleep easily, says Dr. Gentile, because this chemical also helps us produce melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep cycles. We tend to hear about tryptophan around the holidays; turkey is often blamed for causing people to pass out. But it turns out that turkey isn’t even an especially amazing source of the stuff.
"Elk actually has twice as much tryptophan as turkey breast," Dr. Gentile says. Other good sources, in case you don't have easy access to elk meat, for some strange reason: shrimp, lobster, tuna, yogurt, milk, oats, bananas, eggs, peanuts, and walnuts. Whatever you do, don't combine all of these together into some hideous sleep-pie.
If you don't fall asleep right away, stay awake
"If you're trying to fall asleep for more than 20 minutes, it's really better to get up and do an activity in low light and a quiet environment," Dr. Gentile says. So instead of just lying there wishing you were asleep, she recommends reading a book or listening to soothing music.