Sweet Dreams

What you eat can affect how you sleep. Try these tips and remedies to ease yourself into sleep.

Soothing Herbs: Recent research has shown that certain herbs have a calming effect, and they may help with insomnia. Talk with your doctor before you take any herb for sleep.
• Lavender – Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a hot bath and soak right before bed to calm your mind and body.
• Valerian – Try a liquid extract of this sedative herb. Follow the dosage suggested on the bottle. It can take a few weeks to take effect.
• Passion Flower – Drink tea infused with soothing passionflower, this will help calm down the mind and body and allow you to relax into a peaceful slumber.
• Nutmeg – Drink warm almond milk with some nutmeg. Nutmeg has a sedative effect on the mind and the warm almond milk is nourishing to the body.

Sleepy Time Snacks: While its not a good idea to eat heavily close to bedtime, if you’re hungry in the evening, a small snack can be calming. The best snacks contain both a carbohydrate and the amino acid tryptophan, a natural sleep inducer. Foods rich in tryptophan include dairy products, soy milk, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils and nuts and seeds. Carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain, which is why carbs make you drowsy. Suggestions- natural almond butter with whole grain crackers, low-fat cheese with apple slices or a small bowl of whole grain cereal with almond milk.

Caffeine-free afternoons: Caffeine is a mild stimulant that increases central nervous system activity for hours. So avoid all sources of caffeine, however if you must have some caffeine avoid it at least 6 to 8 hours before bed. Coffee is loaded with it but other foods such as chocolate and energy drinks contain the stimulant as well. It is suggested that avoiding natural stimulants including drinks containing guarana seeds, kola nuts and yerba mate.

Hormone producers: melatonin is a hormone secreted by the body that regulates sleep patterns. You can get this in a natural form from food. Tart cherries, grapes and walnuts contain melatonin so go ahead and eat a handful of these goodies to induce your sleep hormones and have a healthy nourishing snack at the same time.

Mellowing minerals: Studies show that even a marginal magnesium deficiency can excite the brain, preventing relaxation at night. Good sources of anxiety-fighting magnesium include leafy green vegetables, wheat germ, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, black beans and almonds.

May the quality of your sleep improve as you bring these holistic solutions into your life!


Rochele M. Lawson, RN,AHP,CMS


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