Good Night, Sleep Right!

#Middlebury #KitchenDiva #Sleep

Like many adults, I sometimes have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep. Sleep researchers have determined that as many as two-thirds of Americans don’t get enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called insufficient sleep a “public health epidemic.”

Contrary to common belief, sleep is not a time when the mind and body shut down. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration and strengthening occurs.” Sleep serves critical functions, and it is necessary for optimal health and well-being.

Over time, lack of sleep can lead to stress, depression, and mental and physical exhaustion. We know that when we’re not well-rested, we don’t perform at our best. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Some people may need as few as five hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep. Children need even more. Both children and adults can use naps to get the total number of hours of rest they need. The focus here is on ways that adults can meet their need for rest.

Your body has a regular rhythm. Your body and your brain will tell you when you need rest. Use this information to set a regular time to go to bed and get up. Maintaining this simple routine will help supply your body with the energy it needs each day. Sleep cannot be stored. Bodies need rest on a regular basis.

Here are some tips for improving your sleep:

  • Most people find that the environment of the room is important to sleeping well. Usually people want the room dark, cool and quiet.
  • Some people use a nap to get the extra sleep they need. Sleep experts suggest limiting an adult nap to less than 45 minutes and taking it before 4 p.m. to ensure that you can still get a full night’s sleep.
  • Watch what you eat and drink in the evening. Foods and drinks that are high in protein, caffeine or sugar can keep you awake. Liquids can cause you to have to get up to use the bathroom during the night.
  • Exercise has been found to be beneficial for sleep, especially for increasing quality of sleep and decreasing certain problems such as sleep apnea. Even small amounts of exercise during the day could help. For most people, some exercise is better for sleep than no exercise at all.
  • Avoid excitement before bedtime. Instead, try reading, taking a warm bath or shower, or adopting some other routine to help you relax.
  • When traveling, try to keep your normal eating and sleeping routine. You might find it easier to adjust to a different time zone by adapting your sleeping times before you leave home.

These foods may improve the quality of sleep:

Walnuts – Good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin. Walnuts also contain their own source of melatonin, the “body clock” hormone that sets your sleep and helps you to fall asleep faster.

Almonds – Rich in magnesium, which helps you to stay asleep and also builds bones.

Tart Cherry Juice – Naturally boosts levels of melatonin.

Dairy – The brain uses the calcium and tryptophan found in dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese to manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin.

Crustaceans – Shrimp and lobster are a great source of the sleep-inducing amino-acid tryptophan.

Honey – Its natural sugars raise our insulin slightly, allowing tryptophan to enter our brains more easily.

Lettuce – Contains lactucarium, which has sedative properties.

Herbal tea with honey

This unusual tea recipe is a natural way to help you get a good night’s sleep.

‘Lettuce’ Sleep Tea

You can double or triple this recipe, and refrigerate the tea and re-heat a serving each night as desired.

2 1/2 cups water
3 to 4 large lettuce leaves
1 tablespoon of lemon balm (dried), or two dozen fresh leaves, or 2 herbal lemon balm tea bags
1-2 teaspoons honey

  1. Using a small pot, pour in water and add lettuce leaves, and bring to a boil over high heat, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from the heat. Add fresh or dried lemon balm or the lemon balm tea bags, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Strain the tea and pour into a sealable container. Discard the lettuce leaves and the dried herbs or tea bags. Pour a serving of the tea into a cup, stir in the honey, and drink 1 hour before going to bed. Refrigerate any remaining tea, and reheat and add honey before drinking. Makes 2 servings.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

(c) 2018 King Features Synd. Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis


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