Do you have trouble sleeping? You’re not alone. In fact, just a year ago, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published an article calling insufficient sleep a public health epidemic, with as many as 70 million US adults experiencing sleep difficulties.
What’s so bad about not getting enough quality shut-eye? The repercussions go well beyond a dark under-eye circles and excessive yawning. In addition to the risk of nodding off behind the wheel or falling behind in your work, the CDC notes that people who experience sleep insufficiency “are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality and reduced quality of life and productivity.” Yikes! But what if you have no idea how to fix the problem?
How to Get Better Sleep
Many of us are aware that sleep medications can be obtained by prescription and even over the counter, but why not try making a few lifestyle changes first? The CDC recommends keeping a regular bedtime schedule and getting up at the same time every day whenever possible. Avoiding large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime is also recommended.
Did you know that certain foods may also help you fall asleep? It’s true! Everyone knows about the old sleepytime tea and warm milk tricks. Here are some interesting discoveries we made about what to nosh on so you can catch up on your ZZZs.
Cherry Juice:R esearchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Rochester found that drinking tart cherry juice helps boost your melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles. Your body produces it naturally, and it’s also found in some foods. It can also be purchased in supplement form.
Hummus: If you’ve ever been in a ‘turkey coma’, also known as the relaxing state that often occurs after Thanksgiving dinner, then you may have experienced the effects of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in many foods, including chickpeas and sesame seeds, which are both key ingredients in hummus (the sesame seeds come in the form of a paste called tahini). While it is true that tryptophan is linked to the production of melatonin, it’s when the amino acid is consumed in conjunction with carbohydrates that it’s most effective. So have some hummus and whole grain crackers and you might find it easier to hit the hay.
Fish: Fish contains vitamin B6, which your body uses to produce melatonin, that sleep-inducing hormone we mentioned above. Salmon, tuna and halibut are among the types of fish that contain the highest amounts of this vitamin.
Yogurt: We all know a mug of warm milk can help you fall asleep, but did you know that eating yogurt or other dairy products can have the same effect? This is due to their calcium content, and calcium is directly related to our sleep cycles. How? It helps our brains use tryptophan to make melatonin. On top of that, dairy products also contain tryptophan.
Whole Grains: Magnesium is another one of those essential minerals required to support healthy sleeping patterns. Not getting enough will have the same effect as calcium deficiency, which often leads to frequent awakenings during the night. A diet high in magnesium-containing foods like whole grains and veggies is linked to deeper sleep.
If you have trouble sleeping, try adding some of these ingredients to your menu. Enjoy a cup of sleepytime tea, and call it a (hopefully) restful night. How do you make sure you get a good night’s rest? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!