How To Sleep Like A Baby: Food

Everyone knows about the “Halloween Effect.” Kids eat tons of candy, get wound up, and bounce off the walls. Most parents think that it’s the sugar that creates this effect, but it’s actually a combination of sugar and the artificial ingredients in most of those candies.

So, like your kids, don’t get all hopped up on foods that disturb your sleep. For adults, these include sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.

First of all, caffeine can take between 4 to 6 hours to be processed by your body. So avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before you plan to go to bed. If you come to the end of an evening and would just love love love a cup of coffee to end the meal, just make it a decaf.

Sugar during and after your dinner can interfere with your sleep. Its impact on your insulin response system can create cravings that make it harder for you to stay asleep during any given evening. Cutting back on sugar is good for you for a hundred reasons, and now you can add your good night’s sleep to that list!

Alcohol is deceptive. At first it makes you sleepy, so it’s natural to think that it might be good for your sleep. But, this is actually not the case, because alcohol can interfere with your REM sleep waves, making them shorter in duration and shallower in depth. For you, this means you may fall asleep quickly, but you’re much more likely to be wide awake at 2:30 in the morning. So, if you have wine with your meal, for example, keep that to 1-2 glasses.

And despite the perpetual rumor that turkey (due to its amino acid tryptophan) will put you into a narcoleptic coma, this is just not true. So there are no foods that help facilitate sleep. But if you eat real food, in control, and keep away from the three sleep inhibitors above, you’ll increase your chances of sleeping well all night long.

How To Sleep Like A Baby: Activity

Do you ever wish your kids had a giant hamster wheel to burn off some of that energy. If they did you know they’d sleep so good when they got back home. Of course, timing is everything. If your uncle or sibling come over and really wind them up before bed, it’ll be just that much longer before they can get to sleep.

The same basic rules apply to us as well as our kids. Regular exercise is like taking a sleeping pill that is also a cholesterol lowering medicine, which is also a blood pressure medication, which also raises your energy level, and increases your lifespan.

There are a billion reasons to move more, but if you tend to sleep poorly, that’s one of the best. The impact that consistently sleeping better has on your life and lifestyle can be profound.

There are no good data showing whether one kind of activity is better than another — resistance activity vs aerobic exercise. Honestly the most important aspect is simply being consistent.

By the way, like your kids, timing matters. Exercise creates a short term elevation in heart rate, metabolism, and sympathetic nervous system activation (the part that stimulates the fight or flight reflex). This is great when you are being active, but if you expect to plop right into bed, that’s another matter. It’s a great idea to avoid exercise within 3 hours of bed time. In fact, a nice calm time leading up to bedtime is ideal to prepare your body and mind for a good night’s sleep.

How To Sleep Like A Baby: Introduction

Wait, what? Sleep like a baby? You mean wake up every 3 hours and cry … like a baby?

Actually the better title for this series would be “How To Sleep Like A 5-year-old whose been playing in the pool all day.” But no one says that, for some reason. So I’m just going with the commonly understood saying, that means to sleep soundly.

All this month our coaching will be centered around sleeping well. Just keep in mind that — short of taking magic pills — there are no magic pills. Getting a good night’s sleep is probabilistic. You can increase your odds of getting through the night, but you can’t guarantee it.

But what you can do is to get out of your own way. Stop doing things that prevent your sleeping well, and start doing things that encourage your body to make it all the way from head-down, to sun-up.

So why the theme, “Sleep Like A Baby”? When looking at the research on sleep and the current recommendations for sleeping well, it turns out to be very similar to the advice we give parents for their kids! I’ll walk through these week by week through this month.

Foods High in Magnesium

(source: Medical News Today) Magnesium is an important mineral that your body needs in order to function. It produces energy and regulates blood sugar and chemical reactions in the body.

Magnesium helps maintain the proper levels of other minerals such as calcium, potassium, and zinc. Your heart, muscles, and kidneys all need magnesium to work properly. The mineral also helps build teeth and bones.

Some health conditions can lead to magnesium deficiencies, including:

  • gastrointestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • stomach viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea

Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine on a regular basis can affect your magnesium levels as well.

The National Institutes of Health recommend s the following daily intake of magnesium:

  • Children 1-3 years: 80 mg
  • Children 4-8 years: 130 mg
  • Children 9-13 years: 240 mg
  • Teens 14-18 years: boys 410 mg and girls 360 mg
  • Adults 19-30 years: men 400 mg and women 310 mg
  • Adults 31+ years: men 420 mg and women 320 mg

Magnesium is found naturally in many different foods. Although magnesium deficiency is rare, many Americans don’t get as much of the mineral as they should in their diets. Still, the average adult may only get 66 percent of their daily-recommended magnesium in their normal diet. This could be a result of the amount of processed foods we eat.

The following 10 foods are some of the best natural sources of magnesium. Try incorporating more of these foods into your diet to get a magnesium boost.

1. Whole Wheat

Wholewheat bread sliced

Most whole grains are a good source of magnesium, but whole wheat flour wins with 160 mg per cup. Use whole wheat instead of white flour for baking, and buy whole wheat bread at the store.

2. Spinach

Spinach leaves

Dark, leafy greens are rich with nutrients, and spinach is no exception.

One cup of boiled spinach has 157 mg of magnesium.


3. Quinoa

Quinoa seeds

Quinoa is prepared and eaten in a way that’s similar to rice. It’s known for its many health benefits, including a high protein and mineral content.

One cup of cooked quinoa has 118 mg of magnesium.


4. Almonds


Not only are almonds a healthy snack, but they’re also packed with magnesium. One ounce of almonds has 80 mg, or about 20 percent of your recommended daily intake.

Toasted almonds can be added to a variety of dishes for extra texture and flavor.

5. Cashews

Cashew nuts

Another healthy snacking nut, cashews are also a good source of magnesium.

One ounce has 74 mg of the mineral.

Eat cashews by themselves or add them to a side salad for dinner.

6. Black Beans

Black beans

All beans have health benefits, but when it comes to magnesium, black beans come out on top. They boast 60 mg per cup.

Warm up this winter with spicy black bean chili, or try making easy black bean dip for your next gathering.


7. Edamame

Edamame beans

Edamame are soy beans still in the pods.

They’re usually steamed or boiled and can be eaten plain or added to a dish.

Half a cup of shelled, cooked edamame beans have 50 mg of magnesium.


8. Peanuts

Peanut pile

Like PB&J?

Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 49 mg of magnesium.

9. Tofu

Plate of tofu

Tofu is an excellent meat substitute, whether you’re a vegetarian or just looking to switch things up a bit.

Half a cup of tofu has 37 mg of magnesium.

10. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are often used in Asian-style cooking.

They’re also a way to add extra nutrients to your meal.

One tablespoon of sesame seeds has 32 mg of magnesium.

(source: Medical News Today)

Foods High In Iron

(source: WebMD) Iron-deficiency anemia, the most common form of anemia, is a decrease in the number of red blood cells caused by too little iron. Without sufficient iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that makes it possible for them to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. As a result, you may feel weak, tired, and irritable.

About 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women, and 3% of men do not have enough iron in their body. The solution, in many cases, is to consume more foods high in iron.

How Your Body Uses Iron in Food

When you eat food with iron, iron is absorbed into your body mainly through the upper part of your small intestine.

There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin. It is found in animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin, such as red meats, fish, and poultry (meat, poultry, and seafood contain both heme and non-heme iron). Your body absorbs the most iron from heme sources. Most nonheme iron is from plant sources.

Iron-Rich Foods

Very good sources of heme iron, with 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of beef or chicken liver
  • 3 ounces of clams, mollusks, or mussels
  • 3 ounces of oysters

Good sources of heme iron, with 2.1 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of cooked beef
  • 3 ounces of canned sardines, canned in oil

Other sources of heme iron, with 0.7 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of chicken
  • 3 ounces of cooked turkey
  • 3 ounces of halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, or tuna
  • 3 ounces of ham
  • 3 ounces of veal
  • 3 ounces of halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, or tuna
  • Iron in plant foods such as lentils, beans, and spinach is nonheme iron. This is the form of iron added to iron-enriched and iron-fortified foods. Our bodies are less efficient at absorbing nonheme iron, but most dietary iron is nonheme iron.

    Very good sources of nonheme iron, with 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, include:

    • Breakfast cereals enriched with iron
    • One cup of cooked beans
    • One-half cup of tofu
    • 1 ounce of pumpkin, sesame, or squash seeds

    Good sources of nonheme iron, with 2.1 milligrams or more per serving, include:

    • One-half cup of canned lima beans, red kidney beans, or chickpeas
    • One cup of dried apricots
    • One medium baked potato
    • One cup of cooked enriched egg noodles
    • One-fourth cup of wheat germ

    Other sources of nonheme iron, with 0.7 milligrams or more, include:

    • One-half cup of cooked split peas
    • 1 ounce of peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, roasted almonds, roasted cashews, or sunflower seeds
    • One-half cup of dried seedless raisins, peaches, or prunes
    • One medium stalk of broccoli
    • One cup of raw spinach
    • One cup of pasta (cooked, it becomes 3-4 cups)
    • One slice of bread, half of a small pumpernickel bagel, or bran muffin
    • One cup of brown or enriched rice

    How to Get More Iron From Your Food

    Some foods can help your body absorb iron from iron-rich foods; others can hinder it. To absorb the most iron from the foods you eat, avoid drinking coffee or tea or consuming calcium-rich foods or drinks with meals containing iron-rich foods. To improve your absorption of iron, eat it along with a good source of vitamin C — such as orange juice, broccoli, or strawberries — or eat nonheme iron foods with a food from the meat, fish, and poultry group.

    If you have trouble getting enough iron from food sources, you may need an iron supplement. But speak to your health care provider about the proper dosage first and follow his or her instructions carefully. Because very little iron is excreted from the body, iron can accumulate in body tissues and organs when the normal storage sites — the liver, spleen, and bone marrow — are full. Although iron toxicity from food sources is rare, deadly overdoses are possible with supplements.


    source: WebMd

Water Your Body With Food

Remember the health fad where everyone felt like they had to drink AT LEAST 8, 8 oz glasses of water per day? I heard people call this “hateful drinking”, because they had to wag around those sippy bottles all … day … long!

The idea was that you could lose that much water in a day, and you need to replace it. But the sources of fluids that you can turn to go WAY beyond just water itself. And the percentage of water found in certain fruits and veggies is actually quite surprising.

For example, obviously water is 100% water. But the lettuce in your salad weighs in at 96% water, followed by cucumbers at 95%, and zucchini squash at 94%.

Fruit is excellent in this respect as well. As the name implies, watermelon is 92% water, strawberries are 91%, and peaches are 89%.

So if you don’t want to have to resort to “hateful drinking”, eat your water in stead! It tastes way better and comes with the nutrients that are fantastic for your overall health.

Why Water Your Heart

They heart’s just a muscle right? Just a pump that pumps blood from the input side to the output side? So why would it matter to the pump if you’re staying hydrated this summer?

Turns out, as you dehydrate and you have less water in your body overall, the fluid volume of blood decreases as well. The solid parts of the blood (blood cells etc) stay the same while the fluid is reduced.

As a result, the blood becomes more viscous, and more like sludge. That sludge makes it harder to deliver oxygen to every cell in your body. That’s why your heart has to work harder with every stoke. It has to expel thicker blood harder, longer if it’s going to provide the same amount of oxygen to all the cells and tissues of the body.

So have a heart for your heart. Stay hydrated!

Water Your Kidneys

Waste treatment is the last thing you want to dig your hands into, and the first thing you NEVER want to fail.

Your kidneys are like the waste treatment facility of your body. It removes toxins from your blood such as urea, uric acid, creatinine, sulfates, phenol, excess sodium, potassium, and chloride ions. They also help maintain a healthy homeostasis of your body fluids throughout your body.

You seriously do not want the waste treatment facility to fail. Because without enough water, those wastes can build up in your body. The outcome is that you may be more likely to get uterine tract infections, and less likely for anti-bacterial agents to do their job fighting those infections in the first place.

Dehydration can also lead to the very painful condition of kidney stones. Don’t let this happen to you … stay hydrated!