These foods, drinks, and tips help you sleep better (preventing insomnia

Monday, July 29, 2013 • Sunnyvale, TX 75182

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by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist

I've noticed in my travels and with working with clients that a large majority of people in today's fast-paced stressful world are struggling at least part of the time with falling asleep at night.

Over the years, even I have struggled on occasion with insomnia because of the stress placed on me by running a large publishing business.  And I've researched and learned quite a few tips and tricks over the years to help fight insomnia and fall asleep faster.

Without diving into every single technique I've learned over the years, I'll just touch on a few really simple, but powerful tips, foods, drinks, etc that I think can help you to fall asleep easier and faster too!

Here goes:

1.  The most important sleep tip to start with:

This one isn't a specific food or drink, but rather probably THE most important tip I can give you... if you don't follow this one, your chances of being able to wind down at night and fall asleep fast are unlikely...

You NEED to eliminate use of devices, computers, emails, and any other work related to your job (or other stressful things) at least 3 hours before you plan to go to sleep.  Using devices or computers for casual reading at night is fine, but don't do any work that gets your mind overly activated, such as anything dealing with work or other stressful things in life.  Also, even for casual reading, it's best to turn off devices at least 1 hour before bed as keeping your eyes focused on the light from devices is one thing that some researchers are saying could interfere with falling asleep.

An overly active mind late at night is one of the BIGGEST things keeping many people from falling asleep.  As a success-driven entrepreneur myself, I used to work really late at night and then I'd find that my mind was always too active to actually be able to fall asleep, so I'd lay there for hours sometimes until I could get my mind to slow down so I could fall asleep.

This may sound weird, but one trick that's worked for me is to grab a book while I lay in bed on something that I find sort of boring and try to read the book in bed.  Because the topic is "boring" to me personally, it keeps my mind away from things that I find more interesting, and it allows me to fall right to sleep.  So for example, if you find health and fitness interesting (I hope you do!), but you find economics boring, try reading an economics book as you lay in bed.  I bet you'll get sleepy and fall asleep much faster than if you laid in bed letting all your thoughts about daily life race through your mind.

2.  No caffeine after mid-day:

You've probably heard this tip many times, so I'll keep this one short... It takes about 6 hours for caffeine to be fully processed and eliminated by your body, so make sure your last caffeinated drink of the day (coffee, black tea, mate, etc) is at LEAST 6 hours or more before your planned bedtime.  And if you've been showing any adrenal fatigue from lab tests, you should also consider reducing your daily caffeine intake if you currently use it.

3.  Tart cherries or tart cherry juice:

Tart cherries (Montmorency) actually contain a natural form of melatonin that can help you to naturally get sleepy and more easily fall asleep.  I've found frozen tart cherries a few times in specialty grocery stores and I use them for a late night smoothie occasionally.

I've also found a tart cherry concentrate in Whole Foods and other health food stores that you can add to a drink or caffeine-free tea at night to help get you that low dose natural melatonin.  I use 1 Tbsp of this tart cherry concentrate in a cup of chamomile or mint tea late at night.  This helps immensely for calming down and falling asleep at night.

A side benefit is that tart cherry also contains powerful antioxidants that fight joint pain, gout, and other inflammation related problems.

4.  DON'T overdose on melatonin supplements:

Did you know that MOST people overdose on melatonin supplements.  Most melatonin supplements come in either 3 mg or even 5 mg doses.  However, according to some researchers, anything more than 1 mg might be too high of a dose, which can disrupt your sleep cycle the following day, making it hard to wake up in the morning, and harder to fall asleep the following night, disrupting your overall sleep cycle.

The proper dose seems to be something less than 1 mg from most experts on this topic (this was even discussed on the Dr Oz show too), which is why I choose to NEVER use melatonin supplements, and only get the small natural quantities found in tart cherries or tart cherry juice.

5.  Night time teas:

Try "night time teas" that have relaxing qualities such as chamomile tea, mint tea, lemongrass tea, or all of them mixed.  A side benefit of chamomile tea, and another reason that I try to include it in my weekly night tea repertoire is that chamomile tea contains unique phytonutrients that can help fight estrogenic overload from all of the xenoestrogens that we are exposed to from chemicals, pesticides, etc in today's chemical laden world.

One last thing...

If you still have troubles falling asleep even after implementing all of these tips, make sure to pay attention to fixing any hormonal issues you might have, including any possible adrenal fatigue, since being overly stressed out during the day can cause imbalances in your natural cortisol cycle which can make you more awake at night and more tired in the morning (obviously the opposite of what you want). 

Eliminate any stressors from your life that you can, and also trying other relaxation techniques including meditation as a way to deal with stress if you still feel that you're too stressed out each day.

I hope today's topic gave you some immediately useful tips that you can use to start falling asleep easier and faster and feeling more rested and energetic when you wake up in the morning!

Make sure to pay attention to ALL of the tips above (especially #1) as they can all combine into a powerful regimen that relaxes you to sleep each night without any more insomnia, leaving you more energetic and ready to be productive when you wake up each day!