At times, I struggle with insomnia, which can last for weeks. I find during these times, my moods and energy levels fluctuate and my concentration worsens. For example, I have gone to a cupboard in my kitchen, only to forget, a second later, what I’m looking for!
Other times, I’ve felt spaced out and disconnected from others. I feel even worse when I read the horror stories about the negative effects of insomnia on our health. However, I’m not describing THOSE here.
I’m starting this post with some interesting facts about sleep and will suggest foods to eat and foods/drinks to reduce, which may help us to sleep better.
- New parents lose an average of 44 days of sleep, because of their newborns.
- We can sleep with our eyes open.
- Some people dream in black and white. A lot more did before colour televisions were invented.
- We are the only mammals that can delay sleep. Other mammals must go to sleep when their bodies tells them to.
- In 1964, Randy Gardner stayed awake for 11 days!
- You can’t sneeze while sleeping.
- The strangers in our dreams are not strangers. We’ve seen everyone before. The brain cannot create people, so it uses faces that have already been registered with it.
- We grow 0.3 inches while sleeping. However, this is temporary as we shrink back down to normal after we’ve been awake for a few hours. When we sit or stand our cartilage discs are squeezed by gravity, like sponges.
The following foods may help us to sleep better:-
- Walnuts and Almonds. Both contain tryptophan – a sleep enhancing amino acid, and magnesium which has been shown to relax our muscles.
- Cheese. Again, contains tryptophan. However, don’t eat too much due to the high fat content.
- Tuna. High in vitamin B6 – critical for the production of melatonin which is responsible for regulating our body clocks. Other sources of this vitamin are chickpeas, bananas and salmon.
- Cherry juice. Again, a source of melatonin and tryptophan. Drink 2 glasses of tart cherry juice every day.
- Cereal. Wholegrains like oats, quinoa and buckwheat which help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Chamomile tea. A natural, mild tranquilizer and sleep inducer.
- Honey. Raw honey contains a perfect balance of fructose and glucose which helps the liver to produce a satisfactory amount of glycogen throughout the day and night; therefore promoting a restful sleep.
Foods that disrupt sleep.
- Caffeine. Don’t drink it after lunch time.
- Spicy foods. Don’t eat spicy food near bedtime.
- Foods high in fat. They mess with the production of orexin – a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate the sleep/wake cycle along with melatonin.
If you’re hungry before going to bed, eat a light snack such as a bowl of cereal, cheese and crackers or peanut butter on toast.
Note. The blue light emitted from tablets etc. can delay the release of sleep inducing melatonin, which can increase alertness and reset the body’s internal clock to a later schedule. Therefore, either avoid looking at bright screens about 2 to 3 hours before bed or download a blue light reduction app on your device. Or, read an actual book!
Experts say we should aim for about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. But, everyone’s different. If I feel refreshed when I wake up and alert during the day, that’ll do for me. I don’t want to be kept awake by worrying about not sleeping!
m.activebeat.com, alaskasleep.com, eatingwell.com, rd.com, sleepfoundation.org, sleepdoctor.com, health.harvard.edu, restonic.com