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14 Foods To Help You Get A Better Night’s Sleep

14 Foods To Help You Get A Better Night’s Sleep

A lot of people struggle to get to sleep at night. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as one in every three people suffer from insomnia according to the Sleep Health Foundation.

Whether you find yourself tossing or turning through the night, or have simply got into the habit of sleeping during the day and staying up all night, the fact is that you’re not alone. However, the benefits of getting a proper night’s sleep are clear for everyone to see. According to this article from Health, sleep can benefit everything from our memories to our creativity and boost athletic and academic performance, and even our life expectancy!

So what can you do to make sure that you get the seven to nine hours of shut-eye that doctors recommend? Well, there’s a number of different techniques that you can try, and also numerous pills and other treatments which claim to help.

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The sleep-inducing ingredients

But did you know that it could be as easy as making a change to your diet? Of course, eating a nutritious and balanced diet will help you live a much healthier life all around, but did you know, there’s a range of different foods which have their own sleep-inducing properties. The three main substances which you need to know about are tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin, all of which are needed for good sleep.

  1. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in protein foods such as turkey, steak and chicken, which is converted into serotonin by the brain.
  2. Serotonin is a chemical which carries messages between your brain cells and other cells in the body. A deficiency of serotonin can lead to anxiety and also make you crave carb-heavy foods.
  3. Melatonin is formed from serotonin and is the hormone which helps to regulate our body clocks.

Instead of simply loading up on proteins, you should be sure to balance them out with some carbohydrates, as they help to cause a rise in insulin levels which in turn helps to increase tryptophan levels in your brain!

Coffee or Tea?

Of course, there are also foods that you should definitely avoid, with the obvious one being caffeine. You probably already knew that caffeine is going to be a bit of an obstacle to sleep, but did you know that it can have an effect as long as ten to twelve hours after drinking it? So, while many of us need a cup of coffee through the day to give us a jolt of energy, it’s best to reduce your caffeine as much as possible.

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If this proves too difficult, you could always try making the change to decaffeinated coffee or try something such as green tea as an alternative.

Alcohol interferes with circadian rhythm

Something else which is worth avoiding drinking is alcohol. While it might help chill you out before bed, it totally interferes with your circadian rhythm (body clock) and disrupts the quality of your sleep. You can learn more about how alcohol disrupts our sleep in this article.

Meals before bed

As another general tip, it’s best to avoid eating a big meal late at night before bed, so try to make sure you have your evening meal a little bit earlier and avoid any rich or heavy foods in the two hours before you go to bed.

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On the flip side, if you go to bed on an empty stomach, you’re likely to spend your night tossing and turning, longing for the fridge.

Foods for a better sleep

For more specific examples of exactly what kind of food you should be on the lookout for, to help you get to sleep, check out this infographic from SleepyPeople.com on ’14 Foods to Help You Get a Better Night’s Sleep’.

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    Featured photo credit: www.healthyfoodheadlines.com via healthyfoodheadlines.com

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2018

    The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

    The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

    It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

    If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

    One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

    Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

    In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

    Why you can’t sleep through the night

    The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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    Stress

    If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

    Exposure to blue light before sleep time

    We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

    While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

    Eating close to bedtime

    Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

    Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

    Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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    Medical conditions

    In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

    The vicious sleep cycle

    The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

    Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

    You get a bad night’s sleep
    –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
    –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
    –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

      You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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      How to sleep better (throughout the night)

      To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

      1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

      What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

      Here are a few suggestions:

      • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
      • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
      • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
      • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
      • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

      2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

      What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

      • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
      • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
      • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
      • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

      3. Adjust your sleep temperature

      Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

      Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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      Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

      Sleep better form now on

      Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

      I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

      As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

      Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

      Reference

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