Getting enough rest at night is very important to function correctly during the day. People today are working more hours than ever before at their jobs, and with all the other factors of stress in our lives, it’s no wonder we end up having some sleepless nights. This has potential to create a vicious cycle of lack of sleep, which causes fatigue, anxiety, and a feeling of hopelessness. There are multiple ways to combat this with the use of diet and nutrition, and even supplements to give you to extra push you need to be able to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest.
Your diet and sleep schedule
Food can play a huge role in your sleep cycles. If you eat too close to bedtime, you may find you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Your body is trying to digest the food you’ve eaten, and in turn will keep you more active and aware. Drinking caffeinated drinks, anything high in sugar, or anything with a stimulant in it will keep you awake longer. Caffeine will stay in your system for usually around 6 hours, so be careful if you are thinking of chugging that Red Bull at 6pm. Be careful with “sugar-free” drinks too. While they may lack sugar, they replace it with something similar, and with similar results. Sugar free does not mean stimulant free.
There are many foods and drinks out there with calming properties and ingredients that promote relaxation and sleep. One of the most common ones is tea. At any grocery store you will find many different brands and flavors of tea that have many combinations of ingredients to help you relax and fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer. Here are the best ingredients for sleep inducing:
3. St. John’s Wort
If you find any teas that have these ingredients in them, they should provide some sort of calming effect. Even just taking the time to relax and sip a cup of tea can be enough to let your body start the process of falling asleep.
Carbohydrates make you tired. Carbs include things like bread, pasta, rice, fruit juices, cookies, and pastries. You may notice that any time you eat fast food, or anything rich in carbohydrates, that about 20 minutes later you begin to feel tired. This is because that carbs can make tryptophan and serotonin more accessible to your brain, and it makes you sleepy. This is not suggesting you eat a tray of cookies before bed, but it is useful advice to have, you may want to make your last meal for the day rich in carbs to help you shut down easily.
Limit Caffeine Consumption Throughout the Day
This is a common reason why it might be hard for some people to sleep at night. Caffeine is a stimulant, and if you ingest a lot of it, your body becomes used to high levels in your bloodstream. To get a boost from caffeine from there, you end up needing more and more.
Many people don’t realize just how much caffeine they intake every day. Count how many drinks you have per day that contain caffeine or another stimulant. A coffee in the morning, Red Bull at lunch and a Coke for dinner all contain caffeine, would it be reasonable to assume that might affect your sleep schedule? A general rule for caffeine is that it stays in your bloodstream for around 6 hours after you ingest it.
Supplements for Sleep
There are a number of supplements on the market that say will help you sleep, but can any of them be trusted? Everyone is different when it comes to how their body will react with these supplements. There are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to buying supplements for sleep.
Valerian, as mentioned above, can be great at helping you sleep better. Finding a supplement with a concentration of valerian can be just what you need. Valerian is known to increase the amount of GABA in the brain. GABA is a compound responsible for stopping nerve impulses in the brain, and helps your body shut down for sleep.
Melatonin is a very popular sleep supplement. It’s a hormone that is produced in your own body by the pineal gland. It regulates sleep and being awake, and if used correctly, will help you create a better sleep schedule. You can find this compound at most drug stores, but there is a correct way to use it. If you decide you want to try melatonin to give you the extra edge to help you sleep, you absolutely would want to use it correctly.
This supplement is the one with the most people saying it has helped them. Even now, in just my friend groups I’ve heard many of them say that melatonin helps them go to sleep easier than anything else. I myself have used it a few times, and it does provide a rather soothing effect on your body and helps you fall asleep.
St. John’s Wart
This popular supplement has become quite controversial in the past few years. It’s used by many to treat depression, as it is known for its mood improving capabilities. However, it’s worth noting that you may have to take this supplement daily for a few weeks before begin able to notice its true effects. Most supplements will recommend a max dosage of 3 capsules. That should be roughly 900mg a day. Another note is that you should not be using ANY supplements before consulting your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.
This is explained well in this article from Harvard- “Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep“.
Other sources have put out a great guide on how to sleep better.
If you need more tips, check out this great publication by the Mayo Clinic- “7 Tips for Better Sleep”
Brain Boosting Foods
Here are the best foods to eat for a healthy mind:
Foods for brain health
One of the most popular foods for helping with brain function is delicious blueberries. Remember how important it is for the body to get a good amount of antioxidants? The reason humans need sleep is because when the brain is in use during the day it comes under oxidative stress. Therefore, foods with antioxidants help keep the brain functioning well and can even increase memory capability.
Some studies show that the ingredients in blueberries end up in the brain, particularly in the spots responsible for intelligence and memory retention. Some of the best dishes for blueberries are: by themselves, blueberry pie, blueberry pancakes, or blueberry jam on toast!
Fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to increase brain function. Salmon specifically is the healthiest choice, and is known as being a cleaner fish than many other options out there. Not only that, but it’s fairly priced since its plentiful.
Omega-3 also has been known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The best way to prepare salmon is baking or broiling. Another really popular tactic is to not cook it at all, and make sushi rolls instead!
The avocado is a very interesting fruit, mostly because it’s known as a fatty fruit. The fat, however, is monounsaturated, meaning it’s not bad fat. In fact, it’s healthy and helps with blood flow around the body. Taking it further, healthy blood flow means a healthy brain, as it is essential to function properly.
Even just eating half of an avocado with your dinner will also lower your blood pressure. Best dishes you can make with these are: guacamole is by far the best, since there are so many variations and you can find exactly what you like in your guac!
Many types of nuts or seeds have great levels of nutrition for humans. Studies show that humans evolved to eat meats, vegetables, and nuts and seeds for food over the hundreds-of-thousands of years we have been on this planet.
As we age, our brains actually shrink. The older we become, the most susceptible we become to illnesses that have to do with mental and cognitive decline. Studies show eating a few ounces each day of nuts or seeds can reduce the decline of our brains, and stop the mental decline from happening so quickly.
Some of the best nuts or seeds to try would be: Almonds, cashews, flax seeds, chia seeds, pistachios, or many different types of nut spreads or butters. One easy way to work these into your diet is to add nuts or seeds on top of your meal, like putting sunflower seeds on a salad.Follow us on social media: