The importance of getting quality sleep every night can never be overstated. Many of our vital functions and skills related to work performance, energy level, reaction time, decision-making, disposition and mood, the efficacy of our immune system and general life satisfaction – are all affected by how well we sleep and the value we attach to getting enough of it.
The most recent scientific research clarifies that when it comes to sleep, quality indeed supersedes quantity. Once we realize how extensive the positive effects of proper sleep and how dire the consequences of lack of sleep are, then we would do well to exert extra effort to ensuring that we get enough of the proper kind of rest at night.
While there are many measures that we can take to sleep well, such as avoiding caffeine, engaging in exercise at the right time and adhering to a regular sleep pattern, there are ways of getting proper sleep that are actually more fun, more refreshing and definitely more delicious.
1) Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is a very popular and mild drink used as a cure-all for many different physical health concerns by well-informed individuals. Relief from bloating, nausea, indigestion, menstrual pain, inflammation, heartburn, sore throat and immune system deficiencies are just a few of its numerous benefits.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in The Journal of Clinical Pyschopharmacology, is conducted to determine the efficacy and tolerability of chamomile. For this study, the researchers gave 57 patients who are diagnosed with mild to moderate GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) either placebo or chamomile extract for 8 weeks.
The results have showed that the patients who received chamomile scored better on all 4 outcome tests than the placebo group. In addition, there was no difference in observed side effects between the 2 groups.
Studies for the past twenty years have also further assert that drinking chamomile tea has alleviated headaches and migraines, as well as symptoms of hyperglycemia and diabetes.
This flowering plant is actually a member of the sunflower family. While there are several types of chamomile, the most widely researched and popularly used are the white daisy-like buds of Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutita).
Known as the “night-time” tea, chamomile is best acknowledged for its ability to induce a good night’s sleep that is as free of nightmares and interruptions as can be. Regular consumption of a cup or two of hot chamomile tea around thirty minutes before bedtime keeps insomnia and restlessness at bay, allowing those who drink it to experience a lighter mood and less anxiety during the day.
The active ingredients in chamomile include tryptophan, an amino acid that has been proven to perform effectively as a sedative by calming the mind and helping the body relax, and apigenin, an antioxidant compound responsible for decreasing locomotor activity.
When drinking it, it is also quite advantageous to first inhale the chamomile’s soothing aroma as a prelude to sipping away at this hot infusion. In so doing, you can literally feel the anxiety and stress dissipate with your every breath.
2) Almond Milk
We all know that taking a glass of warm milk before bedtime feels very comforting and calming. Yet there is something even better than regular milk, especially for the lactose intolerant, and that is, almond milk which has absolutely no dairy component.
As the name indicates, almond milk is drawn from almonds, considered as one of the healthiest nuts in the world, through a grinding or juicing procedure. It comes in several delectable flavors, including vanilla and chocolate.
Contrary to the protein-rich nut it is derived from, however, almond milk is very low in protein, with approximately 1 gram of protein per cup, especially when compared with regular cow’s milk and soy milk. Almond milk also has less carbohydrates, with unsweetened almond milk containing as little as 1 gram of carbohydrates.
Moreover, it contains less calories, from as low as 30 calories compared to skim milk which contains about 80 calories and cow’s milk which can have as much as 160–180 calories, making it quite effective at inducing weight loss. Findings from a recent study proved that regular consumption of almond milk combined with a low-calorie diet resulted in greater loss in terms of pounds and inches and in more effective reduction of body fat and body mass index.
A fairly recent 2011 study proved how consumption of almond milk reduced the risk of developing prostate and breast cancer by suppressing cell growth while cow’s milk and soy milk have been known to stimulate the growth of these unwanted cells. Moreover, drinking almond milk regularly is a highly recommended way to decrease the risk of heart disease.
Almond milk does not contain trans fat and saturated fat and is cholesterol-free but does contain the healthier polyunsasturated and mono-unsaturated fats that actually help further reduce cholesterol levels. What almond milk does have in great bounty are vitamins A, B, D and E, omega fatty acids, fiber and nutrients such as iron, calcium, copper, zinc, riboflavin and magnesium. It is this last element, magnesium, that has been identified as being vital to assisting the body in settling down at night and in sleep regulation.
3) Peppermint Tea
Peppermint tea is one of the most popularly drunk single ingredient tisanes or herbal teas. At times called mint tea, it is an infusion of peppermint, scientifically known as Mentha piperita. This perennial herb with tiny purple blossoms amid dark green aromatic leaves has been esteemed for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal qualities since ancient times, and for good reason. The pale brownish color of peppermint tea belies its cool strong burst of flavor, its unmistakable minty fragrance, and most of all, its extremely potent therapeutic abilities.
Overflowing with an massive amount of antioxidants, peppermint tea is well-regarded as an effective health enhancer of the skin and other organs. Peppermint has menthone, menthol and menthy acetate, compounds that contribute to pain relief for migraines, loosen mucus and coughs, treat wheezing that accompanies mild asthma, provide relief from sore throat and offer other healing benefits.
This infusion also contains copper and manganese and is an excellent source of vitamin C which is known to lower the risk of cancer of the colon.
Not that many studies have actually been conducted on the effects of peppermint tea but those that have been completed do show convincing evidence that drinking peppermint tea provides benefits to those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Because of the ability of peppermint to enhance the flow of bile, food is more efficiently digested, the severity and frequency of abdominal cramps and other digestive issues are significantly reduced, while nausea and vomiting are alleviated.
Moreover, peppermint tea drinkers report a shared experience of both physical and psychological relaxation. Relief from stress and an uplifting of low spirits are likewise observed, supported by research results that confirm analgesic and anesthetic effects on the central and peripheral nervous system. Peppermint tea can thus be utilized in the management of anxiety and depression while its regular consumption promotes remarkable improvements in quality and duration of sleep. According to personal preference, peppermint tea may be enjoyed as an iced, warm or hot beverage, recommended to be consumed about thirty minutes before bedtime.
4) Carob Powder
Carob is a plant, the fruits or pods of which can be used as an ingredient that is mixed with food products such as baked goods, jelly, cereal, pudding, ice cream, canned meats, and salad dressings. Carob powder, on the other hand, is a brown flour-like powder that is extracted from carob beans and when roasted, ground and processed, can be used for baking and making confections and beverages.
It is widely acclaimed as an effective substitute for chocolate and cocoa powder in making cakes, candies and cookies, even by people who are not allergic to cocoa and dairy products, allowing it to be popularly and rightfully branded as “the healthy chocolate.”
Carob powder is naturally sweet and is high in protein and fiber. It contains large amounts of phytonutrients that benefit human health, such as pectin which is associated with cholesterol reduction and tannin that lays claim to antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and analgesic properties.
Carob powder is essentially a powerful storehouse of vitamins A, D, E, B, B2 and B3 and minerals including calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. Fortunately, what it does not have are cholesterol, caffeine and oxalates, with the last being responsible for many digestive issues and the formation of kidney stones. In addition, carob powder has less fat and less calories than chocolate.
With all its components, carob is effectively used as a remedy for digestive problems such as absorption disorders, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea and other health concerns including cough, sore throat, high cholesterol, obesity, osteoporosis and high blood sugar levels.
Studies conducted by German scientists even lend credence to the belief that some types of cancer, particularly lung cancer, are responsive to treatment with carob, mainly because of the plant’s significant amount of phenolic antioxidant substances, another powerful phytonutrient.
With all these health benefits, carob powder still has another advantage, and that is, its delightful flavor, whether it is taken hot or cold. Adding carob powder to milk makes for a comforting beverage quite comparable to chocolate milk and is a novel way to calm your senses, soothe your body and revive your spirits to ensure a beneficial and restful night in bed.
5) Chia Seeds Drink
Chia seeds, in spite of having been cultivated and enjoyed by the Aztecs thousands of years ago for their health benefits, as well as their mild nutty flavor, have only very recently and slowly begun to acquire public attention and appreciation. These superfood seeds, which may be white, or at times, black or dark brown, come from the plant Salvia hispanica, a desert plant which is related to the mint family.
The term “chia” literally connotes “strength,” and knowing what potent substances are contained in these seeds makes the nomenclature quite understandable. Inside these miniature seeds are considerable amounts of protein, fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 fats that are essential for brain health, in addition to calcium, phosphorus and manganese which do wonders for the maintenance of oral and bone health, the prevention of osteoporosis and cell growth and repair. Slow and efficient digestion is facilitated, unwanted food cravings are curbed and appetite is regulated, while blood sugar is stabilized.
Data from scientific research on chia seeds confirm the positive effects of these important components on regulating the blood pressure of diabetic subjects and on raising healthy cholesterol levels while reducing total bad cholesterol. A 2009 study, in fact, presented evidence of blood thinning and a significant reduction in blood pressure of subjects who had consumed chia seeds for the past three months. More recent research has also explored the benefits of chia seeds on liver health, with highly encouraging results.
As if all these were not enough, chia seeds pack an added bonus, in the form of tryptophan, that is known to interact well with serotonin and melatonin which are the body’s hormones that are responsible for, putting it simply, making us feel happy and sleepy. With a mere 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) of chia seeds, enhanced mood and a wonderful night’s sleep can surely be expected and contrived.
While chia seeds can be eaten raw or milled, by itself or with pasta, salads, rice, cereal and even ice cream, one of the most delightful ways it can be enjoyed is to mix it with a drink. Stirring the seeds into water or almond milk, sprinkling them over your favorite yogurt drink, or milling them into a smoothie and then waiting for a few minutes as the seeds become enveloped in a gelatinous coating, can easily be part of an unforgettable bedtime routine.
6) Raw Honey
There’s much more to honey than being a natural sweetener, a preservative or a beauty aide. More than all these, raw honey or honey that has not been processed, pasteurized or even heated as opposed to the cooked kind that can be bought at the supermarket, is recognized for its huge nutritional profile, comprising 18 amino acids, enzymes, vitamins such as vitamin C, riboflavin and thiamine, minerals and probiotics.
As such, raw honey exhibits antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory powers which make it quite effective in promoting rehydration and alleviating diarrhea and vomiting, among its many uses. In addition, raw honey contains a multitude of antioxidants and healthy bacteria which have been documented in systematic studies as being very effective in repairing damaged heart tissue and preventing heart attacks.
Researchers have documented the efficacy of as little as one teaspoon (2.5 ml) of honey before bedtime over popular brands of cough medicine in reducing the severity of cough. Current scientific validation exists, proving that raw honey is helpful in the prevention of many other human concerns such as chronic sinusitis, hypertension, diabetes, immune system diseases, arthritis, cancer and early mortality. Longitudinal studies also offer confirmation that regular consumption of honey allows people who take it to have lower cholesterol levels, to become generally healthier and live longer.
Further information impart that the tiniest amount of raw honey, even just a teaspoon or two, as long as it is taken without protein, can raise blood glucose and promote deeper slumber. It is supposed that honey allows the liver to have its fill of glycogen which promotes relaxation, facilitates more restorative sleep and refuels the brain while we sleep. Another way by which honey enhances the quality of our sleep is by simply allowing tryptophan to enter our brain and work its magic.
Raw honey can be taken straight off a spoon or spread on toast any time during the day. However, for best results in terms of sleep quality, it should be taken right before bedtime in a variety of delightful ways, such as adding it to some warm milk, blending it into a smoothie or mixing it with a hot herbal infusion.
7) Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry, also known as sour cherry, pie cherry or Balaton cherry, markedly differs from sweet cherry in attributes other than taste. While both are bright red in color, the tart cherry, as the name implies, has a distinct tart or sour flavour. Apart from this, the tart cherry has less sugar content but has greater concentrations of phytonutrients, including flavonoids and phenolic acids in general and anthocyanin in particular, which is a very effective anti-inflammatory agent.
In various studies conducted specifically with tart cherries, it was revealed that the anti-inflammatory ability of tart cherries is comparable to that of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. High anthocyanin content is responsible for reducing oxidative stress, arthritis and rheumatism-related issues, the risk of strokes and for improving muscle recovery. In addition, body weight and stomach fat are more effectively managed while cholesterol and triglyceride levels are significantly reduced. It is no wonder that tart cherry juice is often used as a sports recovery beverage.
Tart cherries also contain natural melatonin, which is known to induce sleepiness during nights and wakefulness and efficient metabolism during the day. The interaction of relatively high levels of melatonin with an equally high number of anti-inflammatory agents is associated with gainful sleep modulation.
One study showed that adults who drank 2 glasses of tart cherry juice every day slept an average of 40 minutes longer that those who did not. Improvements in both duration and quality of sleep were attributed to tart cherry drink just as frequency of sleep interruptions and severity of insomnia reportedly diminished.
Making the juice from fresh tart cherries, however, is an easy undertaking. No matter how it is prepared, drinking a glass of tart cherry juice an hour or thirty minutes before bedtime is probably one of the most beneficial pre-sleep habits we can ever observe.
Here we have the 7 wonders of the night. As a word of caution though, we should always consult and inform our physician about everything we imbibe in terms of food, vitamins, supplements, medications and beverages since one or a combination of these may cause certain side effects or particular reactions on our body, especially if we have existing health conditions.
We can be certain, however, that aside from being quite effective, all of these beverages are natural, nutritious, safe and inexpensive, not to mention actually delicious. There simply is no reason at all why we should not enjoy long pleasant nights filled with wonderfully deep sleep and magically sweet dreams.
To find out more about how to use foods to heal your body and lose weight, you can go to the next page and watch my video on ‘3 Alkaline Secrets to revitalize your health and body’.
About the Author:
Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.
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