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An Appetite for Sleep- Comforting Bedtime Food and Drink

06-10-2010

The desire to fall asleep can sometimes be met with an inability to unwind sufficiently. This obstacle can be overcome by taking advantage of the natural measures available. The food and drink we consume influences how smoothly we can relax into a state of sleep.

Warm drinks are famously used to enhance sleep and promote restfulness, as we almost slip into the warm, velvety comfort of our mug. However, it should be kept in mind that a high volume of fluid before bedtime can lead to a disturbance in sleep as the need to urinate increases and takes us from the snug, comfort of the bed.

Specific foods can be eaten throughout the course of the day in preparation for a sound night’s sleep. Yet, food full of stimulants, such as refined sugar and chemical additives can disturb metabolic processes and should be avoided after 4pm. In their place, honey, maple syrup or fruit sugars can be consumed, so that a natural form of energy enters the body’s system and can be directed towards the sleep function rather than activities associated with wakefulness. Other foods to avoid include tomato products and spicy foods, which can lead to heartburn, an incompatible bed fellow, as it worsens when an individual lies down, making it difficult to find relief and peacefully fall asleep.

Ensuring that a daytime diet is rich in B vitamins will help promote sleep, as the nervous system is supported and dream activity aided. Foods with a high content of vitamin B include green vegetables, nuts, eggs and dairy food, which explains why the latter takes the form of a glass of milk, drunk before bedtime in order to duplicate the effects of a lullaby and welcome slumber’s enveloping cover.

A steady release of energy helps the body maintain an even keel all day, which can be assisted by consuming slow burning carbohydrates such as oats, barley, rice and beans. Foods that regulate the sleep cycle and provide sufficient levels of B6 in the body should also be taken advantage of. Foods loaded with the amino acid tryptophan can aid the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which regulates sleep patterns. Tryptophan can be found in turkey, milk, tuna and most carbohydrates.

In winter, warm drinks have a calming effect that almost accelerates the warming effects of the bed covers. A flask kept beside the bed can act as a standby vessel that can pour pacifying properties into a cup, reducing the need to leave a warm bed and boil a kettle. In the summer, when contrastingly, heat becomes the culprit for wakefulness, drinks such as iced chamomile or lemon balm tea can quench thirst and provide instant relief.

At night, when we all become hungry for sleep but the cupboards of relaxation are bare, the food and drink we consume throughout the day and before we retire to bed can lead towards a slumber that devours restlessness.







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