It may sound too simple — if you want to get a better night’s sleep you have to pay attention to the food you eat before you go to bed. Most of us already know that sleep problems can lead to memory and learning problems, so you want to get a good night’s sleep every night in order for your memory to be working on all cylinders.
There have been numerous reports that show both adults and children have difficulty learning or paying attention when they did not get a good night’s sleep the night before. We also know that sleep deprivation can lead to physical ailments as well as mental ones.
In Minneapolis one school system changed their school schedule to begin an hour later so students can get more sleep. They have found that students are not missing as much school and come to school more alert and ready to learn. As a result, their grades have improved and there are fewer behavioral problems.
“People don’t realize how sleep-deprived they really are,” says lead researcher and assistant professor of sleep and chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Dr. Hans P.A. Van Dongen, PhD. “When people are put through chronic sleep deprivation, there is an initial response where they say, ‘OK, this is not optimal but I’ll manage.’ But after a few days of this, things are much worse than they realize.”
According to Dr. Van Dongen, “They have slower reaction time, weakened memory, and other thinking impairments.” The good news is, he adds, you can actually catch up and re-energize with a few days of good sleep, which includes no distractions and interruptions.
Amazingly, too much sleep be just as big a problem (a sign of depression) as too little sleep. Other sleep disorders include: sleep apnea (where you stop breathing several times a night), poor quality of sleep (when there are lights and sounds that make good sleep impossible — like a television). According to The National Institutes of Health, there could be anywhere from 50 – 70 million Americans experiencing some form of sleep disorder. This could cause more accidents, more trips to the doctor for sleep medication, memory lapses and slower reaction times that could “significantly diminish” health, safety and alertness.
So, how can you make sure you get a better sleep? The answer is not pills. Studies have shown they are not effective, and could become addictive. Your best solution is to turn to the foods in your diet that are good for you.
Before going to bed, don’t eat a diet full of sugars, or drink caffeinated beverages. Eat a light snack full of carbohydrates and trypotophan, which can boost the serotonin levels in the brain, says nutritionist Kelly Aronica. Consuming the following foods an hour or less before you go to sleep will help you get a calm and restful good night’s sleep:
- Warm Milk – contains tryptophan, and the soothing aspect of sipping a warm beverage.
- Oatmeal with Milk or Walnuts — combines carbohydrates with protein
- Tart Cherries (not sweet cherries) – contain melatonin, which helps regulate sleep.
- Yogurt – contains half carbohydrates and half protein.
- Almonds – contains both tryptophan and magnesium. If you’re still hungry, try adding these to your oatmeal.
- Hummus and pita – a perfect mix of both protein (from the chickpeas) and carbohydrates.
- Bananas – contain tryptophan, melatonin, seratonin, and magnesium, which can act as a muscle relaxant. Excellent with some peanut butter and toast.
- Chamomile — A warm cup of this will relax you, and is safe, and again the warm beverage will give you a soothing feeling.
Make sure you turn off all things that will block your ability to get a restful sleep, Turn off the television, radio and lights. Even in sleep you can still see light through your eyelids, and these distractions can get into your head and disrupt your sleep patterns.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life. His CDs and memory products are also available online at BrainAthlete.com.
WebMd: The Toll of Sleep Loss in America
National Sleep Foundation: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/sleep-studies