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Living Well in Yalobusha County

Dietary Tips Can Improve Your Sleep

When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep, where you woke up without your alarm blaring and felt energized and refreshed? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one-third of adults and more than two-thirds of high school students report inadequate amounts of sleep. Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep, and adolescents need at least 8 hours (10 is even better) for the best health and well-being.

Not enough sleep is linked with obesity, physical inactivity, mistakes at work, car crashes, and 10 chronic health conditions: heart attack, coronary heart disease, stroke, asthma, COPD, cancer, arthritis, depression, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes.

In addition to strategies to improve sleep (sleep hygiene) like including regular exercise, getting regular exposure to daytime light, establishing a bedtime routine, and sleeping in a dark, cool bedroom, food choices also play an important role in quality of sleep.

Foods to Consume to Promote Better Sleep

Some studies show that short sleepers (people who routinely sleep less than the recommended seven hours per night) don’t eat enough protein throughout the day. Include plain Greek yogurt, nut butter, skinless poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds, legumes (dried beans and peas like chickpeas, lentils, and pinto beans), edamame, or tofu with every meal (and most snacks!) to make sure that you’re consuming optimum amounts of protein.

Tart cherries, not the sweet ones we typically enjoy, may help improve levels of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that promotes sleep. Bananas, pineapple, and oranges are also good sources of melatonin. Try combining all of these into a fruit salad and serve it with half a cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt for a great sleep-boosting snack.

Walnuts are high in melatonin, serotonin, and total polyphenols, all of which help promote restful sleep. Try eating a half-ounce to an  ounce of walnuts two hours before bedtime.

Foods high in tryptophan, an amino acid that produces serotonin to induce calmness and drowsiness, can help promote sleep, especially when they’re combined with whole grains. The best bedtime snack is one that contains both:  think whole grain cereal such as plain oatmeal or Cheerios with milk, peanut butter on whole grain toast, or cheese and whole grain crackers like Triscuits.

Two kiwis consumed about two hours before bedtime may enhance sleep. Combine the kiwi with a half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese, which is a good source of tryptophan, and you may see even better benefits.

Foods to Avoid to Promote Better Sleep

Most people realize that caffeine helps us stay awake, but we often don’t know that the combination of caffeine and sugar found in energy drinks has an even stronger effect. It’s easy to fall into a cycle that begins when you feel tired and lethargic, so you consume energy drinks to feel like you have more energy, then find that the caffeine in the energy drink makes it more difficult to fall asleep at night, which leads to low energy levels the next day and –- you guessed it –- consuming more energy drinks.

Frequent consumption of sweetened beverages, such as soda, sweetened tea, and fruit drinks, is associated with poor sleep quality.

While we may think that drinking alcohol in the evening helps us fall asleep, it  actually disrupts sleep over the course of the night and can prevent you from entering the deeper stages of sleep. This may cause you to wake up still feeling tired despite having spent an adequate amount of time in bed.

Poor eating habits overall, including skipping breakfast and other meals, is also associated with poor sleep quality.

Eating 30-60 minutes before going to bed can make it more difficult to fall asleep. When we eat foods higher in fat and calories –- chips, cookies, and ice cream, for example — during the hour before we go to bed, it’s even more difficult to fall asleep.

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MSU Extension Service

Save The Date

Healthy You exercise class will meet on Wednesday, April 11, and Monday, April 16, at the Extension Office.  The classes are free. Make sure to wear cool comfortable clothes, good walking shoes and bring some water to drink.  The health care professional will be here on Wednesday, April 18, at 8:45 a.m. to test blood pressure and glucose.  Please plan to attend so that we can keep this wonderful free service each month.

• Healthy You Yoga will meet on Friday, April 13, at 9 a.m. at the Extension Office. The class is free and is open to the public. You will need a yoga mat and yoga blocks.

• A 4-H Art workshop will be held Thursday, April 12, at the Extension Office.  4-H volunteer Pat Rodrigue will be assisting youth ages 8-18 with art entries for various art contests.  The program is free and open to any youth ages 8-18 who love art!

• A basic canning class is scheduled Monday, April 16, from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. at the Extension Office.  During this class participants will be learning about the different canning methods and when to use each one as well as the different types of equipment available. Pressure canner lids will be tested during this time as well!  Dial gauge pressure canner lids should be tested each year before using them.  This class is an informational class only and no canning will be done at this time.   This class is free and is open to the public.

• The United Y.C. MHV Club will meet on Thursday, April 17.  The business meeting will be held at 9 a.m.  The program “Spring Seeds” has been postponed due to instructor illness.  We will instead go to The Adult Care Center in Water Valley at 10:15 a.m. and play bingo with the clients.

• Attention all Yalobusha County MHV members – It’s time to start planning for the MHV Cultural Arts Contest that will be held during MHV State Council at Mississippi State University on May 21-24.  Cultural arts entries are due to the Extension Office by April 19th.  Please call the Extension Office with any questions that you may have.

4-H Family & Consumer Science (FCS) Club will meet on Thursday, April 19th at 4 p.m.  The club is open to all youth ages 8-18. 

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