Monday, December 11

What to Eat to Get to Sleep

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Certain conditions caused by sleep deprivation include hallucinations, hand tremors, headaches, increased blood pressure, increased risk of diabetes, memory loss, and obesity.  In sleep deprived children, increased irritability and temper tantrums can occur.

Everyone, at one time or another, has trouble getting to sleep and needs a little help.  Sometimes those sleepless nights seem to come one after the other and can turn into sleepless weeks or months.  Then, what began as an occasional inconvenience becomes a common occurrence which can cause a debilitating sleep shortage, affecting your mood, relationships and work performance.  This situation can indeed worsen and become what is known as a sleep disorder.

But, how to get to sleep?  What can you do to avoid another sleepless night?  Well, as easy and improbable as it may seem, certain foods (and when you eat them) may help you get to sleep a little easier, and once asleep, may help you sleep a little deeper.  It turns out that old-wives tale about a glass of warm milk before bedtime may have some truth to it.  Milk contains tryptophan which the body uses to produce melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone.  Some other foods that help you sleep besides milk (warm or cold) are:

  • Cottage cheese

  • Cheese

  • Eggs

  • Soy milk

  • Tofu

  • Soybean nuts

  • Seafood

  • Meats

  • Poultry

  • Whole grains, rice

  • Beans, lentils

  • Hazelnuts, peanuts

  • Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds

Beyond what to eat is when and how and when you eat these foods; to get the best sleep, plan on eating a small snack from the foods on this list about an hour before you plan to go to bed.  It takes about an hour for the tryptophan in these foods to be metabolized so don’t wait too late to have your bedtime snack.

For an even greater chance of having a good night’s sleep, remember the old adage “Don’t dine after nine”.  It is a great way to remember to eat earlier.  Give your body several hours to digest after eating your evening meal before you go to bed.  And, avoid high-fat meals, which take longer, and are more difficult, for your body to digest.

Foods that are high in caffeine such as coffee, tea, and certain soft drinks should be avoided in the evening because they can interfere with your sleeping in a major way.  Certain medications can contain caffeine as well, so make sure to read the labels.

Avoiding those foods that keep you awake, eating a lighter evening meal and having a small snack from the list of foods above can give you a head start to a good night’s rest.


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