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Five natural ways to improve your sleep

Today is World Sleep Day. Here are some natural ways to try to get the most out of your sleep tonight.
Getting good quality sleep is critical to physical and mental well-being. There are natural ways to help. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

World Sleep Day is March 18, and we all know how important sleep is for our well-being. How does quality sleep help our physical and mental health? Or how fatigue weighs us down physically, emotionally, mentally? To mark the day, here are five natural ways, with food, to help with drowsiness and improve sleep quality, care of psychotherapist Dr. Teralyn Sell. A reminder: Sugar and alcohol negatively impact sleep due to the sharp rise and fall of blood sugar levels. Though alcohol might help you fall asleep, it also disrupts every sleep phase causing you to not sleep deeply. Food #1: Collagen Protein Proteins such as collagen protein and poultry, have amino acids that break down into tryptophan. Tryptophan eventually creates serotonin and then melatonin which helps you sleep. Protein that is consumed before bed also helps to stabilize blood sugar, keeping you asleep all night.  Food #2: Chamomile tea Chamomile is a calming herb that has been shown to help with insomnia or disturbed sleep. Adding a bit of raw honey can add a layer of protection since honey has been linked to supporting the immune system.  Food #3: Dark Chocolate Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, a natural relaxer. Taking a magnesium supplement before bed or soaking in Epsom salts can help you relax before bed and fall asleep easier. Magnesium has also been shown to help reduce restless leg syndrome which can impair sleep.   Food #4: Tart Cherries Several research articles have been published that link drinking tart cherry juice to improved sleep. Tart cherries have a concentration of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate circadian rhythm and can help to promote healthy sleep.  Food #5: Oatmeal Oatmeal is considered an anxiolytic, which can be very calming and help you relax before bed.  It can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels so you can experience a restful night’s sleep.  A note on caffeine: Sorry, coffee lovers. Drinking 1 cup of caffeine 6 hours before bed reduces your deep sleep by 1 hr.  If you start drinking caffeine in the morning, you will likely still have caffeine in your system as you try to sleep.  

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