Long work weeks are interfering with sleep for millions of Americans, according to a new study released by the National Sleep Foundation on March 3, 2008. The survey of 1,000 people showed that most of us average just six hours and 40 minutes of sleep a night, far below the seven and a half to eight hours recommended by medical experts.Workday stress plays a key role in robbing people of restful, restorative sleep. But a healthy diet could help defuse the effects of stress once your head hits the pillow. Foods that boost the neurotransmitter serotonin can actually promote sleep. These include:
- Whole grains, such as whole wheat, brown rice and oats. Try a bedtime snack high in complex carbohydrates to help ease your way to dreamland.
- Milk with honey. Milk contains tryptophan, which converts to serotonin in the body and helps promote the deep stages of sleep. Turkey, egg whites and tuna also contain tryptophan.
- B Vitamins, especially B6 and B12, help reduce stress that can lead to trouble sleeping. Whole grains, wheat germ, tuna, walnuts, peanuts, bananas, sunflower seeds, and blackstrap molasses are all rich in B vitamins.
- Magnesium can also help reduce the stress and nervousness that interfere with sleep. Magnesium-rich foods include kelp, wheat bran, almonds, cashews and blackstrap.
While some foods can improve sleep, others can make sleep difficult or even impossible. Foods to avoid at bedtime include:
- Coffee and other caffeine-containing foods, such as chocolate, cocoa, soft drinks and some over-the-counter and prescription medications.
- Spicy foods that may cause gastrointestinal reflux or heartburn.
- Overly sweet or fatty foods that can also cause indigestion and/or bloating.
- Alcohol. Although it can make you feel sleepy at first, alcohol disturbs sleep patterns later in the night.
Reliv nutritional supplements also offer an excellent source of B vitamins, magnesium, calcium and other health-enhancing nutrients.