March 3, 2008 -- Lack of sleep is something many Americans struggle with nightly. In fact, 60 percent of women report sleeping poorly with frequency, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The problem seems to hit working mothers particularly hard. They average less than six hours of sleep a night.
Sleep deprivation is bad for women and can have real impacts on a person's overall health.
Without the proper amount of sleep, women are more likely to be stressed, late for work, and too tired for socializing or sex. Also, women who slept fewer than five hours a night were more prone to major weight gain — a whopping 33 pounds more than women who slept seven hours a night. What makes the findings more interesting is that the women who slept seven hours were eating more food than those who slept less.
Ways exists to combat sleep troubles. Some of them are a close as your kitchen. Check out your sleep knowledge below.
How Food Can Help Regulate Sleep
Do eat bananas or starchy foods such as potatoes or cereal and eat them four hours before bedtime. Some people say pasta helps them sleep better when they are stressed, which makes sense because carbs can raise serotonin.
Also, combine unsweetened carbs with protein. High carbs and low protein snacks seem to help the brain use tryptophan, which you may recognize from your Thanksgiving turkey coma. The combination produces more sedating serotonin.
Other good snacks for sleep include: apple slices with peanut butter; small bowl of oatmeal with low-fat milk; and crackers topped with turkey slivers.
Foods Associated with Insomnia
Not all foods will cart you off to Dreamland. Some, like rich or spicy foods, can give you insomnia.They can give you heartburn when you lie down. Also, sweets are a stimulant, so you shouldn't eat them within four hours of bedtime. And while decaf sounds innocent, almost all decaf has enough "caf" left in it to keep you up. Go for herbal tea instead.
Facts and Fiction of Sleep
Exercising at Night is bad
False: If you do it in the early evening, for example between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. about three times a week, exercise actually can help you sleep. If you go to bed a bit later than most folks, just remember to get your workout within three hours of bedtime.
Eating dinner by candlelight will help you sleep.
True: Not only is it romantic, but it does make you drowsy. You need to spend more time in dim light before bed in order to prepare for sleep.
Drinking alcohol at night helps put you to sleep.
False: This is a bad idea because while the alcohol may make you sleepy at first, it can wake you up later in the evening.
Get more sleep cures at Ladies Home Journal.