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Do You Know Eating The Right Kind Of Food Can Actually Help You Sleep?

Do You Know Eating The Right Kind Of Food Can Actually Help You Sleep?

Have you ever laid in bed, exhausted from the day’s activities, and yet still can’t fall asleep?

Do you wake up in the middle of the night and find it hard, impossible even, to get back to sleep?

Have you tried cutting out caffeine and other stimulants from your diet, and still can’t sleep?

Have you resorted to prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids to get you through the night?

If you have trouble sleeping, you aren’t alone. It’s estimated that over 20 million Americans experience some form of sleep problems, and over 40 million suffer from a chronic sleep condition. From trouble falling asleep to the inability to enjoy a full night’s rest, there exist more than 70 different sleep disorders that force many people to seek intervention. But most people don’t consider that, aside from sleep aids, there are many foods to help you sleep.

Why Try Foods Over Other Treatments to Help You Sleep?

Losing a night or two of sleep doesn’t seem like a big deal for most people, but too many sleepless nights can quickly take a toll on many aspects of your body. Lack of sleep can affect your mood, focus, physical appearance, and memory, and can ultimately lead to an increased risk in heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

These are serious consequences, but are ones that can be avoided when you introduce enough of the right foods into your diet.

People who continuously experience sleep troubles often turn to mainstream medicine to get quick relief. Doctors can prescribe medications that can make you sleep, or you can grab an over-the-counter sleep remedy. These seem like viable options to people who are desperate for any amount of sleep, but medications also come with their own sets of risks, like dependency, that might make you worse off than if you had forgone them altogether.

Prescription drugs and supplements often carry some type of dependency risk factor, tricking your body into lowering its own natural production of chemicals that help induce sleep. Sometimes, sleeping pills can help you get such an incredible night’s sleep that you’ll never want to go to bed without them again. But long-term use isn’t usually recommended.

Granted, most people know that foods and drinks like soda, coffee, and chocolate can greatly boost your inability to fall asleep, even when your body feels tired. But just as there exists stimulating edibles to keep you alert and moving, there are also several foods to help you sleep.

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And unlike potentially addicting sleeping pills, these foods are 100% safe, non-addicting, and prescription-free.

Before you make a mad dash to the pharmacy to help you catch your zzz’s, try incorporating some of these foods to help you sleep more soundly:

Walnuts

    Walnuts are a solid source of the amino acid Tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin and melatonin to help you sleep. Each 1-ounce serving of walnuts contains about 170 mg of tryptophan, so about 5-6 servings would equal that of an OTC supplement. In addition, the high quantity of tryptophan in walnuts can also help subside some of the moodiness generated by lack of sleep.

    Researchers from the University of Texas discovered that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, another chemical in the brain responsible for helping you sleep. Melatonin is available as an OTC supplement, but walnuts help you get it naturally.

    This dessert recipe is chock full of walnuts.

    Turkey

      Another food rich in tryptophan, there’s a reason why people want to snooze right after a hearty Thanksgiving meal. Turkey contains between 250-310 mg of tryptophan per 3-ounce serving, which is about the size of a pack of playing cards.

      Granted, most other meats contain about the same amount of tryptophan as turkey. But turkey, being a lean meat rich in protein, iron, zinc, and potassium, can also give you the benefit of better skin and teeth (due to the high amount of phosphorus) and lower cholesterol.

      Make your own mouth-watering turkey with this recipe.

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      Cheese, Milk & Yogurt

        You may have heard that a glass of warm milk can help you sleep, but honestly any dairy products can do the trick. Calcium-rich cheese, milk and yogurt helps the brain use the tryptophan to create sleep-inducing melatonin.

        Here’s a recipe for yogurt you can make in your own kitchen.

        You need calcium in your diet regardless of your sleep habits. Calcium can help prevent bone damage or loss, and helps regulate your muscle movement. It’s recommended that you take in between 1,000 mg to 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Eight ounces of plain, low fat yogurt typically contains around 475 mg of calcium, while an 8-ounce glass of milk yields around 276 mg. Don’t take more than 500 mg of calcium at each meal, and be sure you take it with some Vitamin C to increase absorption.

        Cherries

          It’s been found that all varieties of cherries are high in melatonin, which is crucial in inducing sleep. The best way to get your fill is to drink a glass of tart cherry juice or eat one cup of whole cherries before you turn in for the night.

          In addition, cherries can have a positive effect on joint pain and arthritis. If pain caused by arthritis is the culprit keeping you up at night, cherries could help alleviate both problems.

          Try this recipe for Sparkling Cherry Juice.

          Tuna

            Boasting even more trytophan than turkey, fish such as tuna, cod and halibut can help you sleep. A four-ounce portion of yellowfin tuna packs more than 300 mg of tryptophan. Try this yellowfin tuna recipe.

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            In addition, you can also get the added benefit of essential Omega-3 fatty acids that can help with depression, hypertension, joint pain, and arthritis.

            Honey

              The natural sugars in honey give your insulin levels a slight boost, which helps tryptophan easily enter your brain. Honey helps build a steady supply of glucose to get your body through the night, and contributes to melatonin release.

              Add a spoonful of honey to your chamomile tea, or slurp it straight from the spoon to set yourself on a path to a more restful sleep.

              This recipe combines honey with yogurt and fresh fruit to give you a tripe threat in combating sleeplessness.

              Chia Seeds

                They might be tiny, but chia seeds pack about 202 mg of tryptophan into every two-tablespoon serving. Chia seeds are also rich in calcium, another helpful aid in sleeping.

                Add a sprinkling of chia seeds to any of the above recipes. It doesn’t change the flavor, but will give you all the benefits.

                Pretzels

                  Pretzels produce a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, which reduces the time it takes you to fall asleep. Just like with honey, this burst also helps tryptophan enter your brain.

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                  You can buy pretzels at the store, or make your own healthier pretzels at home with this recipe .

                  Rice

                    Rice’s high glycemic index will, just like honey and pretzels, helps shorten the time it takes you to arrive in dreamland.

                    Both brown and red rice are high in tryptophan, with about 101 mg of it in each half-cup. Brown rice is also a good source of calcium and magnesium, two essentials that can promote a better night’s sleep.

                    This recipe combines trytophan-rich turkey and rice into one tasty dinner.

                    Bananas

                      Packed with potassium and magnesium, bananas can provide a quick remedy to help you get your nightly rest. A deficiency in magnesium has been attributed to relestless leg syndrome (RLS) and nighttime muscle cramps, two common occurrences that can hinder your night’s sleep.

                      You can get 32 mg of magnesium in a single banana, but you will need around 310-320 mg of magnesium per day to avoid deficiency.

                      This fun recipe for banana rice pudding combines bananas, rice and calcium-rich rice milk, three foods that can help you sleep.

                      Featured photo credit: parkimedes via youtube.com

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                      Alli Hill

                      Lifestyle Writer and Marketing Consultant

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                      Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                      How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                      How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                      Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                      Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

                      I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                      You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                      Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                      When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                      I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                      Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                      Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                      Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                      1. The Inner Critic

                      This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

                      • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                      • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                      • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                      • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                      The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                      Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                      2. The Worrier

                      This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                      The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

                      3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                      This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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                      This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                      The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                      4. The Sleep Depriver

                      This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                      The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

                      • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                      • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                      • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                      • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                      How can you control these squatters?

                      How to Master Your Mind

                      You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                      Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                      There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                      • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                      • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                      This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                      The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                      Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                      For the Inner Critic

                      When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                      You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                      For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

                      You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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                      “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                      If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                      • They rile up the Worrier.
                      • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                      • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                      • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                      • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

                      Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                      Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                      For the Worrier

                      Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                      Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                      You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                      • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                      • Muscles tense

                      Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                      If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                      Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                      “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                      Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                      If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                      Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

                      Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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                      For example:

                      If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                      “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                      Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                      “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                      Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                      For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                      Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                      The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                      • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                      • Muscles tension

                      I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                      Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                      Breathe in through your nose:

                      • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                      • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                      • Focus on your belly rising.

                      Breathe out through your nose:

                      • Feel your lungs emptying.
                      • Focus on your belly falling.
                      • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                      Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                      Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

                      One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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                      Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                      For the Sleep Depriver

                      (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                      I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                      Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                      1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                      2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                      When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                      From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                      For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                      If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                      You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                      • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                      • Shut down your thinking.
                      • Calm your feelings.
                      • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                      The Bottom Line

                      Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                      You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                      Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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                      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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