Few things genuinely and inherently feel as good as waking up from a good night’s sleep. I’m sure that throwing the game-winning touchdown at the Super Bowl, watching the birth of your children and getting that big promotion at work would likely feel quite good too, but let’s be honest; a good night’s sleep holds a special place in all of our hearts. And it is for that reason that it is such a tragedy that more and more people don’t seem able to get enough of it.
When we fall asleep, aside from dreaming, we are more or less unencumbered by the world around us. However, while it may seem as though not much is going on while you sleep, the reality is that there are many important and downright fascinating things happening to you while you count your sheep and drift off to dreamland.
For starters, your brain cleans house while you sleep. In fact, during heavy REM sleep, your brain is actually almost as active as when you are wide awake. And according to a 2013 study, it is theorized during sleep is when the brain clears away toxic byproducts that could otherwise cause problems, like the plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. But that’s not all, your brain is solidifying memories while you sleep. “We think the brain is processing the information we gained throughout the day and filtering out the information we don’t need, which may be one of the reasons we dream,” says Dr. Daniel A. Barone, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at the Weill Cornell Medical College’s Center for Sleep Medicine.
Have you ever been so tired that you experienced that “can’t move another muscle” feeling? Most of us have, and the reason for it is that many of our normal physiological processes slow significantly down at bedtime. “The intestines quiet down in the nighttime, and the liver goes from trying to detoxify during wakefulness to trying to build and synthesize when you’re sleeping,” says Dr. Sigrid C. Veasey, MD, a neuroscientist and a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology.
Your blood pressure drops as does your body temperature; your body pumps out growth hormones, and during REM sleep you are literally paralyzed. Wow, who knew that so much was going on while your tightly tucked in?
Now that we know how important sleep is, it does beg the question as to why most people aren’t getting enough of it. Sadly, the answer to that question is WAY to varied to answer, as there are literally thousands of potential reasons that you are unable to drift off to slumber. For some people, it could be stress that is weighing on their mind and making the journey of sleeping difficult. For others, it could be an excess of caffeine that is keeping them up, and for more still, it could be the pains of hunger, or just as likely, the foods you ate. However, while we are sure most of you have experienced wakefulness as a result of something you ate, did you know that certain foods can also help you fall asleep?
The expression “you are what you eat” is one that is taken in many different ways, but when it comes to sleep, eating the right foods can most certainly help you circumvent the tossing and turning just as much as it can be the cause of it. So what foods should you be choosing as your next late night snack or as a preemptive diner? Glad you asked, for here are the best foods to eat to tackle insomnia and help you get the sleep you not only need but deserve.
Ketchup, tomatoes sauce and pizza sauce are NOT what we are referring to here, for more often than not, these products will contain other, non sleep conducive ingredients. However, raw, straight from the market tomatoes are not only delicious and versatile in their preparation, but they are also the perfect addition to your sleep regime.
Tomatoes contain large amounts of lycopene, which research suggests may be the key to experiencing a better, more energizing rest. Recently published in Appetite, a study reveals that lycopene is one of a handful of nutrients associated with high-quality sleep. So if you find that you are having to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, it may be time to start topping more salads with tomatoes throughout your weekly dinner routine.