Could a restful and restorative night’s sleep come down to the foods you eat? Enjoy these top 3 foods for good shut-eye and avoid these top 3 foods that steal sleep.
Having a sleep disorder is a very unhealthy way to live. You can’t focus, you look like you haven’t slept, and your decision making skills are out the window because your concentration is constantly broken.
All the coffee at Starbucks won’t bring you out of it either. What you need, friend is some good old-fashioned sleep.
Without it, you could end up with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a stroke or 2 just because you failed to give your body the restful sleep it needs and deserves to serve you for life.
Lack of sleep makes you much more than tired
Sleep deprivation can be a complicated slew of health problems that you just don’t need. In addition to all of the above, when you don’t sleep you also damage neural pathways – the neural pathways are responsible for your personal recorded history.
When you learn to ride a bike, use a computer, drive a car, play a musical instrument, or even meet people, your brain creates neural pathways that take the learning process and make it automatic. Without these pathways, you lose the ability to learn and retain the steps necessary to execute what you learn. This is especially serious where children are concerned, as their growth into adulthood is governed by the learning process.
We’re not done yet! Lack of sleep can also ruin your thyroid. The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands and is responsible for controlling nearly all of your body’s metabolic processes. Without proper sleep, Mr. Thyroid can run amok…because sleep is mandatory – not optional – for the proper secretion of hormones. These hormones help control your weight with metabolism. If you’re your metabolism descends, then your weight ascends – get it? Plus, these hormones are nocturnal; they only come out at night…and only when you sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises heart rate, blood pressure creating stress. Stress causes and turns an autoimmune response into disease. Autoimmune diseases ruin a perfectly good thyroid.
Lack of appropriate slumbering hours also strains your reproductive organs. The functioning of these organs relies on hormones. Estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone are all released during sleep. They are associated with repair processes that cannot occur if you don’t regularly saw the wood. Furthermore, young people need to be especially mindful of good sleep habits. The days of the “all nighter” in preparation for the big exam are an unhealthy reference to the past. Growth and luteinizing hormones are also sleep-reliant and can only serve a maturing body when it spends 9-11 hours nightly in dreamland.
Now go get some sleep, will you?
What’s that you say? You’re you a visual learner? Okay. Well here’s a checklist showing you that you owe yourself some sleep:
- Have trouble paying attention
- Forget details of a conversation
- Drop things
- Ever go through a stop sign or red light (don’t laugh – it happens every day!)
- Have trouble reading without feeling drowsy
- Make frequent mistakes at work
- Have difficulty following instructions
- Feel over emotional
- Have a hard time regulating your temperature
If that’s you, then you should probably help yourself to a nap instead of a Red Bull.
- Consume caffeine daily – you are blocking your sleep initiating amino acids
- Are under constant stress – your heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels are climbing, preventing you from the deep-sleep benefits of REM
- Take medication – you are chemically altering hormonal secretions that are natural sleep aids
- Consume alcohol – you are lowering your core temperature and suppressing sleep regulating hormones along with circadian rhythm induced hormones for reproduction, growth and renal function (circadian rhythm is a biological cycle that revolves around a 24 hour period)
- Use tobacco – you are decreasing your levels of oxygen and increasing your heart rate
- Are going through menopause, your decrease in estrogen and progesterone can interfere with your body’s melatonin levels
- Don’t exercise – you are storing more waste products and avoiding a vital cleansing process
- Snore – you’re at an increased risk for sleep apnea that can lead to irreversible brain damage
- Eat fried foods – you are increasing the production of gastric juices and putting your swallower on auto-pilot – interrupting the muscle paralysis needed during REM
- Eat carbs or drink sugary beverages – your rise in blood sugar interrupts the circadian cycle and could result in diabetes
- Eat high sodium foods – you disrupt electrolyte balance
- Are pregnant – avoid all of the above causes of sleep deprivation, because your baby’s health depends on you getting enough sleep
In no time, you could settle-up with your sleep debt and get your life back on track.
See, being mindful about your diet and lifestyle will serve to fortify all of your systems and support all of your life’s events – including sleep.
So, here are…
3 foods to enjoy while repaying your sleep debt
1. Healthy, whole foods with minerals
Don’t feel like fruiting? Try a bit of avocado, artichoke, beans or nuts. These will serve you in 2 ways:
- You get your sleepy-time minerals
- Your brain won’t wake you up because it needs to be fed.
Just be careful not to overeat before bedtime and don’t take your snack less than 45 minutes before bed.
Can’t sleep? Try the “Thanksgiving Remedy.” Have a couple pieces of turkey with a glass of milk. These foods are highest in tryptophan, a natural amino acid that lullabies your mind into a peaceful nap. Other foods high in tryptophan include: tuna, oysters, clams, and soy products.
There are many herbal teas out there to choose from to help achieve restful sleep. Some popular favorites are peppermint, fruit, chamomile, kava kava and valerian. But, be warned: the last two are powerful sleep inducers and have a distinctive, acquired, earthy taste.
So, that’s what TO do. Here’s what NOT to do:
3 foods to avoid while repaying your sleep debt
1. Fried foods
They may be tasty…they may be comfort foods in the south…but they can cause heartburn when you’re trying to sleep. Your gastric juices are normally suppressed during sleep, but the Colonel’s extra crispy chicken will stimulate production of stomach acid, which can keep you up and in pain. Fried foods also induce a swallow reflex that interrupts your REM cycle. During REM, or Rapid Eye Movement, you experience muscle paralysis to keep you still during this crucial period in your sleep. Any automatic reflex will bring you out of it and cause unrest.
Seems like we’re always poo-pooing carbs…The truth is cutting down on them or avoiding them altogether during your waking hours should be the same during the night since your blood sugar management skills are compromised. Carbs spike blood sugar levels when you sleep, which can mean double trouble for you.
What? No nightcap? Alcohol may seem like a good idea. After all, it relaxes you, takes the edge off and makes you sleepy. But, those effects wear off and your brain can wake you up in the middle of the night. Once you’re up, chances are you won’t be getting back to sleep. You may wake up with a headache, dehydration or even having to go to the bathroom. Over time, alcohol induced sleep becomes even less restful. So, you’ll be less and less focused and productive during your waking hours.
If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, your dinner could be to blame. Don’t let these foods steal your sleep from tired and weary eyes.
Be a champion sleeper
Don’t take the fast and easy escape. Alternating between Riesling and Ambien to fight off sleeplessness will hinder sleep later and disturb dreaming once the drowsy buzz wears off. Instead, indulge in chamomile tea and a hot bath to fall asleep and stay asleep. A more natural approach to slumber will coax you mind and body to rest in your cozy bed. Your sleep pattern will improve with good quality-sleep and a peaceful mind – worth every second of shut-eye.
Soon, you’ll doze off on cue, snooze soundly for seven hours, dream blissfully and always wake up rested.
Tomorrow is the 1st day of the rest of your life. Shouldn’t you be alert and ready for it?