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How to choose foods to help you snooze

Everyone knows the importance of getting a good night’s sleep – it helps you function and get through your day, whether work or school, much better. If you’re having trouble falling asleep you already know how hard it is to stay alert and concentrate on your daily tasks. In addition to making it hard to concentrate at work or school, losing sleep also puts you at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, being obese and ADHD in children with sleep disorders.

Chances are, if you’re not sleeping well at night, you’re also relying on caffeine or other stimulants to get through the day. Sipping a cup or two of coffee first thing in the morning is fine but if you’re using it to get through the day, that will also lead to night time sleep difficulties.

We know that quitting caffeine isn’t easy and it can bring with it withdrawal symptoms that range from drowsiness, headaches, flu-like feelings, lack of concentration and irritability. If you decide to give up caffeine you should do so gradually; you could blend decaf with regular coffee and slowly increase the amount of decaf over a few weeks time. Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t just about giving up caffeine, though. There are other foods to avoid such as heavy or spicy foods before bedtime. Alcohol should also be avoided because even though it makes you drowsy, over indulging can cause a restless night’s sleep. 

Quitting the caffeine habit isn’t easy or comfortable. Many people suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness, flu-like feelings, irritability and lack of concentration when they give up caffeine cold turkey. You can avoid those symptoms by gradually withdrawing. Try blending decaffeinated coffee with regular coffee. Increase the amount of decaf over a few weeks time.

 Here are a few foods to try to help you fall into a restful slumber:

  • A light bedtime snack like a small bowl of a whole grain, low sugar cereal with non-fat milk. The tryptophan contained in dairy products promote sleep as do bananas, oats and honey.
  • Try cherries. They’re rich in vitamins and contain melatonin – a substance that helps regulate sleep. Enjoying fresh or dried cherries before bedtime might help you sleep better.
  • Here are other foods high in sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan: eggs, soy products, rice, beans and hummus.
  • Here are a few bedtime snacks to try out: hazelnuts and tofu, oatmeal and raisin cookie and a glass of milk, or peanut butter sandwich.
  • If you’re looking for meals that will help you fall asleep, try ones that are high in carbohydrates and low-to-medium in protein as they will help you relax: scrambled eggs and cheese, seafood, pasta and cottage cheese; tuna salad sandwich; or a non spicy chili with beans.

Make certain you avoid eating excessive fats before bedtime as this will keep your body working to process the food and will lead to a restless sleep. We are also firm believers in exercise as a way to help yourself fall asleep – don’t exercise too close to bedtime, though as your heart rate will be pumping and that’s not conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Since 2002, Valley Sleep Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has provided Arizona with diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for patients.  Their Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists consist of experienced and knowledgeable physicians who provide expert advice across a multitude of sleep related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, sleepwalking, and pediatric sleep problems.  They accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare.  For more information contact Lauri Leadley at 480-830-3900; http://www.valleysleepcenter.com

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Tempe, AZ

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San Diego, CA

"I was especially impressed with Andrew the Respiratory Therapist who reviewed my study with me and answered my questions. Andrew thoroughly explained everything about the Cpap machine-from start to finish. I never felt rushed and was assured I could contact him with any additional questions or needs. Andrew told me he would follow up with a call in a week and he did. I believe this center performed the study appropriately and the added benefit of having Andrew teach me about the machine and what to expect was a bonus."

Candace M.

Scottsdale, AZ