I need advice on developing a strategy to get enough sleep. Insomnia -- or even just getting less than 6 hours of good sleep a night -- increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and viral infections, but snoozing 6½ to 7½ hours can actually make your heart and mind younger.
Fortunately, food may hold the solution to getting the ZZZs you need. A couple of hours before bedtime, curl up with one of the following sleepy-time snacks that get your brain to release sleep-friendly chemicals.
Almonds: A handful contains muscle-relaxing magnesium and sleep-inducing tryptophan, which increases the brain's level of feel-good serotonin.
Bananas: Beneath the peel is a trifecta of soothers: serotonin, magnesium, and melatonin, your body's natural sleep regular. I usually slice a banana in thin slices and top with a little sugar and milk..just like Mother did!
Skim milk: Mom was right -- a warm glassful will help you sleep better. The milk's tryptophan has a sedating effect. Plus, it's calcium that helps your brain use that tryptophan. This is a very relaxing little night cap and just lovely with a few drops of vanilla extract and nutmeg or cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Oatmeal: Oats are rich in sleep-regulating melatonin. If you drizzle just a little honey on top, it tells your brain to turn off orexin, a neuropeptide linked to alertness.
Whole-wheat bread: A slice of toast dotted with banana slices releases insulin, which helps tryptophan get to your brain. There it changes into serotonin and whispers, "Sweet dreams."
Walnuts, like almonds, contain sleepy-time tryptophan.
In a saucepan, combine milk, orange juice concentrate, apple, banana, raisins, salt if desired and cinnamon; bring to a boil. Stir in oats and oat bran. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with brown sugar and toasted walnuts.
Mr. Sandman....Bring Me a Dream.......