And now after all that heavy lifting and reading, it is SNACK TIME!
But first as a quick review, we previously recommended that each of us examine our individual positive and negative choices leading up to bedtime and handpick through the “these sleep solution fit all” choices and make our own altered-to-fit-our-life list that will accentuate our own personalities.
We also looked at Taylor Kupata’s definition of insomnia which was “an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, or problems waking up too early, that occur for at least three nights a week for three months and affect daytime performance.” Too often, we let our sleepless nights get so out of hand that we are too exhausted to have enough energy to do anything about it. And while this multi-million dollar industry includes all sorts of gadgets, potions, and pills, we have worked diligently to provide you these blogs that focus on natural options.
In this Third of our Four Part Series, DreamFit examines food and drink choices that optimize conditions that produce steady and deep sleep.
Dr. Nathaniel Watson, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine explains that “diet and sleep are interwoven in the fabric of a healthy lifestyle. For optimal health, it is important to make lifestyle choices that promote healthy sleep, such as eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.”
Celebrity Chef Jason Wroble agrees and clarifies what foods can do to keep us awake. He emphasizes that “people are generally overstimulated….and foods have a significant impact on the quality of sleep.” Wroble has a favorite bedtime snack that he frequently writes about.
Almond Butter on a Banana
Both the almonds in almond butter and bananas are “ high in potassium and Vitamin B and both act as natural muscle relaxers. This delicious, healthy, and hopefully sleepy snack provides just the right amount of substance and sweetness for an after dinner snack. I eat this as a snack almost every single day. Almond butter is a little more expensive than peanut butter (if you have an ALDI grocer in your neck of the woods, they have a great inexpensive brand), but a little goes a long way. It took me a couple of weeks to adjust to the difference in texture and taste, but now I prefer it over peanut butter. And if you knew my consumption of peanut butter in my lifetime, that is an impressive conversion.
The next recommendation, brown rice, acts as a natural sleep aid “calming the nervous system” by including the newest buzz word in nutrition, GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) which acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system inhibiting nerve transmission in the brain and calming nervous activity.
You probably are having the same reaction I had when I first read this. Ick. I am not going to eat rice before I go to bed no matter how sleepy I am. But doesn’t a warm bowl of cinnamon oatmeal sound yummy? Guess what?
Brown rice is a perfect substitute for oatmeal and offers the same delicious and filling factors. And if you make a little bit extra the next time you have brown rice for dinner, it is quick and easy! (Note: before you add anything seasonings to your dinner, scoop out a cup to reserve for this dish.)
Thanks t0 the blog Running With Spoons ,we found the perfect recipe for a Sleepy Brown Rice Bowl. I am including Amanda’s specific directions and my lazy version as well. My microwave version was so good that I can’t imagine how delicious it would be if I made it and actually followed the recipe!
Here is what I did: I didn’t have dates, so I used raisins and dried cranberries (Craisins) instead. Dee-lish! I also love pecans so I threw a few in there. I was in a really big hurry, so I did not follow the stovetop directions, but just threw everything in a sturdy microwave dish, stirred, then microwaved for three minutes. I stopped the microwave and stirred a couple of times. I was so excited not to have ANY of that awful spill-over you can have with oatmeal.
With my version, the apples were a little bit under-cooked but I actually liked the crunch of them that way. I gave the recipe to a friend of mine and she didn’t have cinnamon so she added pumpkin pie spice instead (YUM! I will do that next time for sure!).
Cherries Or Tart Cherry Juice
In Jessica Migala’s Bedtime Snacks for Sleep, she writes that“ Tart cherries are rife with melatonin, a hormone that regulates your body clock. There are a few food sources of melatonin, but tart cherry juice is the one that has the most promising data behind it. ” And even just a bowl full of cherries alone allow the body to release melatonin and act as a perfect sleeping aid for all sleep issues. Dried cherries are another option and almost always available in grocery stores.
Coconut Milk Berry “Ice Cream”
Migala also includes my personal favorite, the healthy ice cream alternative. It is REALLY complicated. Ready? Take a cup of frozen berries, drizzle coconut milk on top, stir, and eat. Seriously. And it is great! Buy one of those big bags of frozen assorted fruits if you want something other than just berries or do what I did and freeze your own. I was lucky enough to catch the .99 blueberry pint sale, so I bought several and made little individual servings in a zip lock bag with a few banana slices added for a little variety. I may or may not have tried it with a few M&Ms as well.
Migala swears by this simple recipe declaring, “Seriously, this will give your pint of ice cream a run for its money. This snack is packed with healthy carbs (fruit) and healthy fats (coconut milk), which digest more slowly to keep blood sugar stable longer than processed carbs and sugars.”
As you start to pay attention to your evening habits, you, too, should begin to find favorites that seem to trigger relaxation and stress relief. You should in turn be able to recognize those culprits that seem to instigate tossing and turning. Make your own list and follow your body’s signals. By combining our list and your list, you should be full of healthy food and happy dreams.