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LGLWSM Newsletter 056 - Best Foods to Sleep By
March 30, 2012
Some people sleep way too much, while others’ don’t ever seem to get enough. Some people drop off to sleep as soon as their head hits the pillow, while others toss and turn in an attempt to get comfortable enough to sleep. If you get into bed with lists and lists of things you need to get done the next day, you will most certainly have a hard time falling asleep.
Sometimes staying asleep becomes the problem. You may drift off quickly but then suddenly wake up before its time to get up. Keep up this pattern long enough, and it will surely affect your beauty and your health. Your body simply can’t function well if you’re not properly rested.
Getting too much or too little sleep is linked to higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. A 2009 study from Spain found that adults age 65 or older who typically slept nine hours or more (including naps) were at higher risk for dementia.
Other research suggests that habitually sleeping nine hours or more may be associated with depression, illness, and accidents. Conversely, regularly sleeping less than six hours a night is a risk factor for obesity. For optimum health, experts still suggest that you aim for a total of around 8 hours of sleep.
The foods you consume before bedtime can be a strong support in the quest for a good night’s sleep. Some insomniacs wake during the night simply because blood sugar drops too low. Adequate protein and healthy fat intake can help stabilize blood sugar through the night, and allow the liver to let out stored insulin as needed for a good night’s sleep. Some foods can also support the healthy production of brain neurotransmitters that help create calming results in the body.
So if you have a hard time sleeping, try some of these food solutions.
The Montmorency cherry is a type of sour cherry with about 6 times the amount of melatonin than regular cherries. Most of the time, people know that the darker the color of a fruit, the more antioxidants it has. The problem with dark cherries however, is that they’re also sweet. Sugar may inhibit a good nights sleep so that’s why the lighter colored sour cherries are perfect.
If you can't find the actual cherries, look for a cherry juice concentrate, which provides even more of the melatonin your body needs to sleep well. You can find Montmorency cherries in some health food stores when they are in season. Sometimes they can be found in the frozen section, or look for a Montmorency cherry juice concentrate.
A handful of pumpkin seeds has relatively high amounts of the amino acid tryptophan, which your body uses to produce serotonin, the feel-good and relaxation neurotransmitter. Pumpkin seeds also contain high amounts of zinc, which helps your brain convert tryptophan into serotonin. Serotonin levels are typically low in people who may fall asleep easily but continually wake throughout the night.
It is best to consume applesauce or another healthy carbohydrate with your pumpkin seeds because carbohydrates allow tryptophan to travel to the brain in higher amounts.
Oatmeal is a cereal grain made from the herb Avena sativa, which has long been known as a nutrient rich calming plant that is perfect for an overstressed nervous system.
Oats contain melatonin and complex carbohydrates that can help release more tryptophan to the brain, which helps you sleep.
While you might think of oatmeal as mainly a nutritious breakfast food, it also is a smart choice for a bedtime snack. The Scottish people recommend a bowl of oatmeal in the evening to help you fall asleep.
You may be plucking dandelion weeds from your yard like crazy this time of year but if you find a good healthy plant, pluck the leaves, wash them well, and blend them into a salad at night.
Dark green leafy vegetables have more nutrients than are even known. While dandelion is not traditionally known as a sleep-inducing food, it’s an effective liver cleanser that may be a valuable aid in helping sleep.
A healthy liver will balance blood sugar levels naturally. Blood sugar fluctuations and drops are a major factor in insomnia and waking up during the night. Hormonal changes, especially for peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women, can impede you from obtaining a good night’s sleep. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods like dandelion can help balance the liver and nourish the yin, which ultimately helps regain hormonal balance and strengthens the function of the blood and other bodily fluids.
If you don’t like the idea of eating dandelions, you can purchase dandelion root supplements, do an occasional liver cleanse, or eat other dark leafy green veggies like spinach, collards, kale, or turnip greens.
Cashews and Almonds
Foods rich in magnesium are legumes and seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, brewer's yeast, and whole grains.
Potassium and magnesium are natural muscle relaxants, and bananas are a good source of both nutrients. Bananas also contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP in the brain. The 5-HTP in turn is converted to serotonin and melatonin.
Like bananas, milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which turns to 5-HTP and releases serotonin. It’s also high in calcium, which promotes better sleep.
Whole Grain Toast
Carbohydrate-rich foods cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which triggers insulin to bring them back down. This often explains why you might feel more energetic shortly after consuming carbs but then ‘crash’ shortly afterward. At night, this sleepiness can be very useful, making toast the perfect midnight munchie. Along with insulin comes a release of tryptophan and serotonin, which brings the sandman to your house sooner!
Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Traditional Chinese medicine, insomnia often stems from low kidney energy. However, this syndrome is not related to kidney disease as described in Western medicine. Instead, it refers to the kidney meridian, which is part of TCM.
Signs of low kidney energy are lower back ache, tiredness and fatigue, with a burst of energy at about 11 pm. Women in menopause often experience this type of insomnia.
Some of the foods that help kidney yin deficiency are kidney beans, walnuts, asparagus, egg, sweet potato, string beans, celery, grapes, plums, berries, sea salt.
Sugar, caffeine products, and alcohol are foods to avoid before bedtime. If you get indigestion at bedtime, try this old timer remedy. Drink a shot glass full of pickle juice (or apple cider vinegar) each time you have heartburn. This helps alleviate indigestion by alkalizing your stomach, which helps turn off gastric juices!
Daily life varies but to keep in optimum health, your sleep patterns should be consistent. Getting your beauty sleep will help you in the anti aging battle. Use some of these foods to help you escape into dreamland tonight and on to a better day tomorrow!
A huge big thank you to everyone who helped me figure out what to do with my newsletters! The overwhelming consensus was to keep things as they are. Your wish is my command!
That being said, remember that my newsletters are not for me. They are for you, my subscriber! So you are more in control of things than you’ll ever know! If you ever have any suggestions, please shoot them to me. I am always open to more ideas on what to write about next!
Also, just a note about advertisers. I love giving you all a good deal, but with the economy the way it is, I am being very picky about the advertisers I approve. I have had many many offers, believe me. I am still looking hard though!
Until Next Time!
Stay Sweet and Be Beautiful!
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