Sleep problems are some of the most common health complaints that can cause us to feel downright awful, making it hard for our bodies to detox, lose weight, repair, and balance blood sugar and digestion. Going without sleep means dragging our bodies around during the day and sporting huge under-eye bags. However, before you reach for pills or head to your nearest sleep clinic, try these culinary solutions for a restful night.
Deep Sleep Do’s
It may sound too good — or simple — to be true, but certain foods can help one get a good night’s sleep. For example, some people wake at night when their blood sugar drops too low. Sufficient protein and healthy fat intake can help steady blood sugar through the night, and allow the liver to release stored sugar molecules needed for a good night’s sleep. Foods can also maintain the production of calming brain neurotransmitters. Here are the most common sleep disorders and some solutions.
Trouble Winding Down?
Still jumping off the walls when everyone else is slowing down at dinner time? Don’t only eat Oatmeal for breakfast. As a nighttime meal, oatmeal can help you sleep. It’s a good source of complex carbohydrates, thus does not produce the sugar-high common with sugary foods; is quickly digested; is filling and can therefore reduce cravings; and contains calcium, magnesium and potassium — nutrients that help the body relax.
Trouble Falling Asleep?
Try Montmorency tart cherries
Staring at the ceiling again? Try Montmorency cherries. Compared to regular cherries, they have about 6X more melatonin— an important antioxidant and the hormone that tells your body it’s time to put on your PJs when it gets dark.
Trouble Staying Asleep?
Try pumpkin seeds
Keep jumping up in the middle of the night? Try pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed powder before going to sleep. They are high in the tryptophan amino acid, which the body uses to make the relaxation neurotransmitter serotonin. They also contain zinc, which helps the brain convert tryptophan into serotonin — which restless sleepers usually have a shortage of.
Deep Sleep Snacks
If you’re a tad hungry before going to sleep and want a snack, don’t fish out the ice cream and dig in — that’s just for the heart-broken in movies. Here are a few alternatives:
• Nonfat Popcorn
The carbohydrates in plain, fat-free popcorn help transport tryptophan to your brain to make serotonin.
• Mango Lassi
Packed with antioxidants, protein, and vitamins, this treat satisfies cravings for creamy sweet treats like ice cream — without the huge sugar bomb. Cut up and blend a fresh, peeled mango (or frozen berries/watermelon). Add ice, a scoop of full fat Greek yogurt, and a dash of water or milk.
• Chamomile Tea
Unlike most teas, this herbal drink has no caffeine and is very soothing. A warm liquid before bed can also make you sleepy by raising your body temperature.
Remember being told as a kid to drink hot milk and honey if you couldn’t sleep? Well, honey raises your blood sugar, lowering the production of the brain’s neurotransmitter orexin, which has been linked to wakefulness.
Studies have shown that insufficient sleep lowers natural, cancer fighting immune cells. One study suggests that our ability to fight viruses, like the common cold, drops 300% when we get less than 7 hours of sleep. So, do some research and make sure you’re eating the right food before bedtime and if you have to snack, do so wisely. Also, remember that eating a heavy meal 2 hours before bedtime can keep anyone awake!