How Cheese (and other things) Affect Your Sleep

When you have difficulty sleeping, there can be several remedies to help you get to sleep faster and even stay asleep longer. Have you ever wondered what causes poor sleep? Insomnia can be a short-term or a long-term problem. No matter how long it lasts for you, it’s never a fun thing.

Oftentimes, insomnia can be the result of stress or even the change of routine, even various types of medications. When insomnia is a long-term problem it can be the result of a more serious health condition, such as depression, anxiety, or sleep apnea. Sometimes it can manifest as a result of poor sleep habits, sleeping in an uncomfortable sleep environment, or being locked into your smartphone or tablet all night.

When we lose sleep, especially over long periods of time, there can be a number of effects like feeling exhausted, irritable, having difficulty functioning throughout the day’s tasks. Over longer periods of time, it puts you at risk for greater health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, even diabetes.

Regardless of the cause of length of your struggle with poor sleep, there are a number of ways to cope with the root of the problem and allow yourself to start sleeping better. Today, we’ll discuss several of the best and worst methods for getting a better night’s sleep.


Sleep Medications

Sleep-promoting pharmaceuticals are very popular. They’re advertised all over our screens. Typically, they can offer a short-term solution to a temporary problem. Plenty of people utilize them but, should they?  These sleep-aids can come with a variety of side effects including but not limited to headaches, soreness, constipation, dry mouth, daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and dizziness. When you bin all these side effects together, they seem just as bad as difficulty sleeping.

So what if you don’t get any of these side-effects? If you don’t get any side effects from these medications then, you’re a lucky one! Just because you don’t experience any side-effects doesn’t mean sleep medications are a long-term solution. Many people build up a tolerance to these medications with repeated use meaning, you’ll have to take a higher and higher dose to get the same effect, or they’ll stop working entirely.

Keep reading to learn some better alternatives for more natural and healthy ways to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.


Exercise

It makes sense, right? The more you move, the more tired you’ll be. Being physically active is essential for sleeping well. There is more and more evidence showing that people who exercise regularly tend to sleep better than those who don’t, particularly when it comes to chronic insomnia.

The National Sleep Foundation experts seem to believe that exercising has the ability to promote feelings of relaxation and reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Maintaining an active lifestyle may also assist your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle in staying in sync.


Food, Food, Food

The things we eat and the things we drink may have a bigger impact on our sleep cycles than we would like to believe. It’s common knowledge that there are certain foods that may help with remaining slim, or ‘bulking up’, but what foods help us sleep and what foods keep us awake?

To help battle your insomnia, add a few of these foods to your evening meal or snack options.

Cheese- Did you know that cheese contains tryptophan? Tryptophan is an amino acid, needed to produce serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that helps us feel relaxed and sleepy.

Almonds- These crunchy nuts also contain tryptophan. They are also an excellent source of calcium and magnesium. Both of those minerals help achieve quality sleep.

Salmon- Of course this one is good for us for a number of reasons. Its high levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, help us sleep in addition to a plethora of other things.

Whole Grain Crackers- Carb-heavy snacks help us feel sleepy after eating, but why? They make us feel this way because they cause your blood-sugar to spike, which plays a role in regulating your body’s clock. Pasta or mashed potatoes might be a very heavy option right before bed but some light whole-grain crackers are likely to do the trick.

Bananas- These super fruits are great for a variety of reasons. They’re rich in carbs and tryptophan, which we know help us sleep. They are also rich in potassium and magnesium, which are two great minerals for promoting muscle relaxation.

In addition to the foods we can afford as a snack or meal before bed, there are a few big no-no’s as far as things we shouldn’t eat before trying to sleep at night.

Caffeine- We drink it in the morning to wake us up. It can stay in our system for as long as six hours. It seems pretty self-explanatory that we shouldn’t drink it right before bed but, because of the length of time it stays in our systems, even that afternoon cup can have an impact on your sleep.

Spicy foods- It’s been hard to tell why all that hot sauce doesn’t help us sleep but researchers tend to think it has to do with the effects spicy food has on our body temperature. Raising our body temperature too much before sleep can lead to a less restful sleep, in addition to taking longer to fall asleep.


Lifestyle Changes

There are several simple lifestyle changes that can be implanted into your life and sleep routine that can help with your insomnia. When you pair these implementations with exercise and the right foods, it all adds up to better sleep.

Take it easy on the screen time. The blue light that is emitted from your technology is like electronic caffeine. It makes your brain feel pumped up and ready to go. Try turning off your devices at least an hour before turning in to bed to make it easier to fall asleep.

Cool the temperature. There is a popular belief among sleep experts that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 72 degrees. Try out a few different temperatures and see what is best for you.

Turn off the lights. This one just makes sense. When exposed to artificial lighting while sleeping, it suppresses the body’s ability to produce melatonin, the queen of sleep hormones. Utilize blackout curtains or an eye mask to ensure you’re not exposed to too much light while sleeping.

Comfortable bedding. Comfortable bedding is another key to great sleep. Utilizing natural fabrics that breathe with you ensure that you won’t be waking up too hot or too cold during the night. Some natural fabrics include cotton, wool, silk, bamboo and linen.


Products for Better Sleep

There are several products on the market that are linked to supporting better sleeping habits. Sometimes, everything we try may not seem like it’s working enough. When you’re exercising, eating right, and have made several lifestyle changes, there are a few more things that you can try to get the best sleep possible.

Weighted Blanket. Weighted blankets are relatively new to the sleep game but that doesn’t mean they don’t pack a punch. These blankets are specially designed to provide an even weight distribution over you while you sleep. They utilize Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) to the body. DTP helps release the neurotransmitter, serotonin that helps us feel calm and relaxed. It’s similar to being wrapped in a safe, warm cocoon for the night. Dozeology Weighted Blankets are a great choice for those looking into this option. They are made with all-natural materials and a high-quality 160GSM cotton, allowing you to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Blackout Curtains. Living in a busy neighborhood or city can mean that lights are pouring into your windows at all hours. With blackout drapes, the outside light that interrupts sleep is blocked completely. In addition to blocking out light, they also tend to reduce outside noise and regulate the temperature in your room. When choosing a blackout curtain, choose a high-quality fabric and research your brands to ensure you’re buying a high quality curtain.

White Noise Machine. These machines are beneficial as they play a nondescript sound, distracting your mind from its own thoughts and keeping other household noises at bay.

Herbal Remedies

Throughout human history, herbs and flowers have been used for centuries to cure a number of ailments. There are several herbs that are particularly beneficial for treating insomnia.

Herbal remedies may still affect each person in a different way. While they may be all natural and from the earth, it’s still important to check with your doctor before taking any new medications, supplements, or remedies.

Chamomile. This herb most commonly comes as a tea. It has been used for centuries to promote relaxation. It’s also been said to act as a mild sedative, helping calm the nerves, reduce anxiety, and ease insomnia.

St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort has been used to ease symptoms of depression like anxiety and insomnia. It can be steeped into a tea and sipped slowly. It has been known to make skin more sensitive to UV rays so be sure to utilize your favorite sunscreen while taking St. John’s Wort.

Melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. It can be found as a supplement on its own or in a variety of foods including cherries or milk.

There are a lot of sleep aids out there for those of you suffering through insomnia, whether it’s an issue on its own or a symptom of a greater health problem. Through the implementation of some of these suggestions, you may find that your sleep is better than you’d have hoped. Many things that may work for one person may not work for another so, it’s always important to try a few things and see what works best for you.

If your insomnia is causing havoc in your life and nothing seems to be helping, it’s always important to check in with your doctor and discuss your symptoms as well as the natural remedies you’ve tried.