Friday, April 27, 2012

Are You Sleep Deprived?

There was a report out yesterday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. that tells us many American workers get fewer than six hours of sleep each night. This is a particular concern for not only workers’ safety, but it also poses sometimes deadly health consequences, resulting in in cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes and depression.

It seems to me there are two categories into which sleep-deprived people fall. One, those who overextended and can't get to bed at a reasonable hour, which was the subject of the report.
But another situation where people don't get enough sleep is not being able to fall asleep, due to worry, anxiety, stress, a health issue, something consumed during the day or simply a brain that won't shut down and relax. 
Ordinarily I don't have trouble sleeping. Engaging in a full day of mental activity at my job in a high-energy office plus the exercise I get around my house and property generally makes me fall asleep quickly. But sometimes, rarely, I can't fall asleep and if I've forgotten to make myself a cup of Tazo Relax tea 30 minutes before bedtime, I get up and take two Ibuprofen. I don't like doing it often, but it really does the trick for me.
But how about eating something that'll make you sleepy?
I found the following food list at the Website Real Age and if you are not familiar with it, I highly recommend it for a wealth of information on health, diet, food, exercise, aging – all sorts of good stuff. Sometimes I am wary that sponsors have paid to have their product on a recommended list. How can you every know? But often you find generic suggestions not related to products, so I particularly liked these suggestions on foods to eat to make you sleepy.
Information from the article:
About 90 minutes before you want to nod off, head for the kitchen and make yourself a sleepy-time snack. Keep it light (around 200 calories), so you don't overload your digestive system. And include one or two foods from the list below. All help to relax tense muscles, quiet buzzing minds, and/or get calming, sleep-inducing hormones -- serotonin and melatonin -- flowing.

1. Bananas -- They're practically a sleeping pill in a peel. In addition to a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, bananas contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant.

2. Chamomile tea -- Chamomile is a staple of bedtime tea blends because of its mild sedating effect, which makes it the perfect natural antidote for restless minds and bodies.

3. Warm milk -- It's not a myth. Milk has some tryptophan, an amino acid that has a sedative-like effect, and calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan. Plus, there's the psychological throwback to infancy, when a warm bottle meant "relax, everything's fine."

4. Honey -- Drizzle a little in your warm milk or herb tea. Lots of sugar is stimulating, but a little glucose tells your brain to turn off orexin, a recently discovered neurotransmitter that's linked to alertness.

5. Potatoes -- A small baked spud won't overwhelm your gastrointestinal tract as it clears away acids that can interfere with yawn-inducing tryptophan. To up the soothing effect, mash the potato with warm milk.

6. Oatmeal -- Oats are a rich source of sleep-inviting melatonin, and a small bowl of warm cereal with a splash of maple syrup is cozy -- and if you've got the munchies, it's filling, too.

7. Almonds -- A handful of these heart-healthy nuts can send you snoozing because they contain both tryptophan and a nice dose of muscle-relaxing magnesium.

8. Flaxseeds -- When life goes awry, and feeling down is keeping you up, try sprinkling 2 tablespoons of these healthy little seeds on your bedtime oatmeal. They're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a natural mood lifter.

9. Whole-wheat bread -- A slice of toast with your tea and honey will release insulin, which helps tryptophan get to your brain, where it's converted to serotonin and quietly murmurs "time to sleep."

10. Turkey -- It's the best-known source of tryptophan, credited with all those Thanksgiving naps. But that's actually modern folklore. Tryptophan works when your stomach's basically empty rather than overstuffed and when there are some carbs around rather than tons of protein. But put a lean slice or two on some whole-wheat bread midevening and you've got one of the best sleep-inducers in your kitchen.

 And how about a recipe that uses several of the above sleep inducers?

 Lullaby Muffins
Between the bananas, the whole wheat, and the light touch of sweetness, these muffins are practically an edible lullaby.
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 large, very ripe bananas
1/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup milk or soymilk
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the flour (make sure it's whole-wheat pastry flour or you'll produce golf balls, not muffins), salt, and baking powder. In a blender, puree the bananas; add the applesauce, honey, and milk. Blend well. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups and pour in batter. Bake 30 minutes or until tops are lightly brown and slightly springy. Makes 12 low-fat muffins.
 Nutrition Facts:
Per serving: 119 calories; 1g fat; 2.5g protein; 27g carbohydrate; 10g sugar; 133mg sodium; 3g fiber; 35mg magnesium

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults sleep seven to nine hours a night.
How many hours do you sleep each night?
Do you have trouble falling asleep? If so, what do you do, if anything, to help you get to sleep?


  1. I go to bed early and sleep 8-9 hours, though I might wake up sometime of the night, but can fall back to sleep.
    No troubles falling to sleep, as I eat a cup of ice cream ( true! ) and a large cup of Africa Rooibos, caffeine free tea before turning the light off.
    I won´t recommend this to anyone, but I guess I need that psychological throwback to infancy you wrote about, the one I never ever had.

  2. Relax tea is my absolute favorite. The addition of Tarragon to the mints is so good. I sleep 8 hours. I usually have some milk in my tea, sometimes almost half and half, and this might help with sleeping. Since moving from Seattle, my husband and I have started taking magnesium. We must have been getting it naturally there, but I noticed my husband had systems of some deficiency soon after moving here. He is more the type to sleep 6 hours with a couple of 1 hour naps in the afternoon and evening. This was very interesting - Thanks!

  3. Being an 'owl' I go to bed late soon as I hit the pillow am asleep for 8/9hrs.Some nights have a mug of decaffeinated coffee just because I feel like one nothing to do with my sleep patterns. Ida

  4. Hi Mette, Beryl and Ida. For some strange reason, Blogger won't allow me to reply under individual comments. Thanks for sharing your sleep experiences. Sounds as if all of you are geting great sleep. Sleep is good!

  5. No trouble going to sleep, just wake up very early, around 4 a.m. but this isn't bad. I just stay very still so as not to disturb my husband and watch out that east window by our bed and see the sun rising. I'm sure the early hour is something I can't shake even though now retired, I do not have to get up that early any more.


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