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Spring Ahead to Good Sleep

Except for Arizonians, a collective groan is being moaned this week as people hit the snooze alarm to compensate for the hour’s loss of sleep from springing ahead with Daylight Savings time. But even Arizonians cross-country travel, so they, too, can be heard calculating hours lost from time zone changes and Daylight Savings. With a few minor adjustments in your schedule, though, you can bounce back from the lost hour without using over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids.

Your body naturally adapts

The circadian system is a flexible, internal clock which adjusts to time changes. You can accelerate the synchronization by adjusting  a few daily habits:

  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoons and evening,
  • Open your shades and curtains as soon as you see some light in the mornings and shut them early in the evening.
  • Avoid using your computer, television, and other electronic devices in the evening. The light from these devices tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.
  • Keep your bedroom set aside for sleeping, and not as a second den.
  • Use a 10 to 20-minute relaxation routine with diaphragmatic breathing, self-hypnosis and restful yoga or stretching poses.
  • Go to bed at the same time every evening, following your usual sleep schedule.
  • Limit the use of alcohol and other mind-altering drugs, which can severely impact your sleep.

Nutritious food as a natural sleep aid

Woman sound asleep in bed.
Asian woman on the bed sleeping by herself

A recent trend which can cause potential problems is the use of over-the-counter sleep aids or the supplement melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the brain in response to light and dark. Without the guidance of a trained health professional, self-medicating using these medicines and supplement can possibly disrupt your sleep even more. You may not become physically addicted to them but you could develop a psychological dependence.

However, several foods naturally contain melatonin. Plan your meals for the next few weeks with these melatonin-rich foods. They include:

  • Fruits and vegetables such as tart cherries, corn, asparagus,  tomatoes, pomegranates, olives, grapes, broccoli and cucumber
  • Grains such as rice and barley and
  • Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, and flax seeds.

Three other naturally occurring minerals in foods which help induce sleep are tryptophan (especially combined with foods rich in vitamin B6), magnesium, and calcium.

You can find tryptophan in:

  • dairy products,
  • poultry,
  •  seafood, nuts and seeds,
  • legumes,
  • fruits such as apples, bananas, peaches, avocado
  • vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, onions and asparagus
  • grains, such as barley, rice, corn and oats.

Magnesium is a natural relaxant and is often referred to as the sleep mineral. You can find it in:

  • dark leafy greens, such as spinach
  • nuts and seeds
  • wheat germ
  • fish, such as salmon, halibut, tuna and mackeral
  • soybeans,
  • bananas,
  • avocados,
  • low-fat yogurt

That glass of warm milk your mother told you to drink before bed offered you two benefits to help you sleep. The warmth is a soothing sensation. Research has shown that calcium-rich diets can help with insomnia. Pick foods with the combo of tryptophan and calcium for the best results.

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Sardines
  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Enriched grains and cereals
  • Okra
  • Broccoli

Daylight Savings Time may have taken the spring out of your step with the lost hour of sleep. You can get it back, fast, by following a consistent schedule and nourishing yourself with the best foods which promote relaxation and health.

If you’ve tried these things and still aren’t able to sleep because you’ve got something on your mind. Then reach out for help so you can find clarity about what the next New Thought, Right Action could be.

Copyright 2019, Brenda Henning

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Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Mental health, Stress, Work stress

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