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Sleep's Effect on Hunger and More News

Sleep's Effect on Hunger and More News


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In today's Media Mix, an interview with Craig Schoettler, plus a McDonald's worker was fired for too many sprinkles

Arthur Bovino

The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.

McDonald's Worker Fired Over Sprinkles: A McDonald's worker who was fired for "gross misconduct" for putting too many chocolate sprinkles on a McFlurry was awarded a little more than $4,800 for unfair dismissal. [Business Insider]

Cider Is Booming: Looks like hard cider might be the next big drink trend, following the growth of craft beer. [Reuters]

Sleep and Hunger: Turns out, lack of sleep might make people more hungry, meaning they'll eat more and gain more weight. [WSJ]

Craig Schoettler on Aviary, New Drumbar: The former executive chef of Grant Achatz's The Aviary talks with Time Out Chicago about what really went down before he left, plus his new bar. [Time Out Chicago]


Sleep On It? When to Go to Bed Angry

THE BASICS

&ldquoNever go to bed angry&rdquo might be one of the worst pieces of old-time wisdom. People tend to feel more negative emotions and react more strongly to negative events when they are tired. So finding yourself fighting late at night&mdashwhen you should be sleeping&mdashis a recipe for disaster.

When we are low on sleep, we start fighting over things that wouldn&rsquot ruffle a feather when we are well-rested. In some of my own research , I&rsquove looked at the link between sleep and conflict, and found that people are more likely to fight if they slept poorly the night before compared to days when they slept well. I also brought couples into the lab, had them tell me how well they&rsquod slept the night before, and then asked them to solve a big problem in their relationship. I found that if either partner in a couple had slept poorly the night before, people were less able to understand their partner&rsquos feelings during the conflict, and had a harder time resolving the problem. And yes, I mean either partner&mdashso it seems that if just one of you is sleep-deprived, you may be in for a rockier ride when dealing with conflictual issues.

In other words, a poor night of sleep for you or your partner may lead you to fight when you wouldn&rsquot otherwise, and when you do start fighting, you may just find yourself having a harder time resolving the issue. Unfortunately, other researchers have found that people sleep worse after fighting with their partner, suggesting that if you don't deal with the conflict, you may have a harder time getting a good night of sleep.

Fighting while hungry (hanger, anyone?) is another recipe for disaster. Who can think clearly or be patient when their body is screaming for calories? Similarly, being short on time or feeling stressed makes people more irritable and hostile. You are more likely to notice your partner's negative behaviors and less able to deal with them constructively when you are stressed. Like sleep, stress may turn nonissues into issues and prevent people from dealing constructively with their conflict.

Does it feel like there is never a good time to fight? To deal with conflict constructively, you should ideally discuss the issues in the best possible place at the best time. Of course, you cannot always fight under optimal conditions, but you can become more aware of the outside factors that exacerbate conflict and then work to minimize those external factors. Your conflict may escalate unnecessarily if you are tired, hungry, stressed or short-tempered for some other reason unrelated to your conflict. Sometimes you may even find yourself in the midst of a conflict that wouldn&rsquot have happened if you&rsquod just gone to bed a little earlier the night before or waited until after you'd eaten to broach the sensitive topic. So the next time you start to get angry over something little, take a minute to evaluate the situation. If it&rsquos close to bedtime, instead of staying up so that you don&rsquot go to bed angry, try distracting yourself with something pleasant for 20 minutes and then going to sleep and seeing if you are still as mad in the morning. If you're hunger, take a break and get something to eat. If you are short on time, hit the pause button and return to the issue when you don't feel so rushed. And think about your partner as well&mdashdid they say something insensitive because they are being a jerk, or are they just tired and hungry after a long day? Making good attributions for your partner's behavior may be beneficial for both of you. And you may find after a good night of sleep, a good meal, or time to think clearly, that your problems don&rsquot feel so big anymore.

Want to argue less in your relationship? Try answering these five simple questions.


These Are the Best&mdashand Worst&mdashEating Habits for Sleep

Health experts have made it known that our overall wellness is affected by a symbiotic relationship between sleep, diet, and exercise, so it should be no surprise that scientists have found a good night’s sleep is directly related to what we eat.

According to Teofilo Lee-Chiong, MD, sleep expert and chief medical liaison at Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care, the foods we eat directly affect our gastrointestinal activity, neurotransmitters, and our post-prandial insulin response𠅊nd all of these processes play into whether or not we have a restful or restless night of shuteye. "The time and regularity of meals can affect your quality of sleep and metabolism, too," he says.

So, what are the best𠅊nd worst�ting habits for sleep? Read on for Dr. Lee-Chiong’s recommendations for how to give your body the R&R it deserves.

Follow a regular meal routine throughout the day and avoid snacking between meals and after dinner. &ldquoEating irregularly has been described to be associated with poor sleep quality, and this relationship may be bidirectional,&rdquo says. Dr. Lee-Chiong. This means that a lack of sleep may also cause you to make rash decisions come mealtime: self-control requires optimal brain function, after all. Any of us who have ever groggily gone overboard on the morning-after doughnuts and immediately regretted it&mdashdid I really need to give myself another reason to need a nap?&mdashknow this struggle all too well.

According to Dr. Lee-Chiong, the opposing scenario (i.e., suddenly cutting back on food) can also be detrimental to your circadian rhythm. &ldquoMaking drastic changes in caloric intake, food choices, and nutrients can lead to sleeplessness,&rdquo he says. &ldquoThe resulting hunger and other unpleasant gastrointestinal sensations aren&rsquot doing your body any favors.&rdquo Bottom line: the more routine your eating habits are, the better.

Pre-bedtime eating can disrupt sleep, particularly in those who do not typically eat before bedtime. This is mostly due to discomfort related to gastric activity, which is particularly problematic if you have digestive issues like acid reflux. Individuals who habitually eat before bedtime due to work or school schedules should eat moderately and try to avoid large meals.


Night mode smartphone features do not improve sleep, BYU study claims

PROVO, Utah — Despite claims that users will receive a better night's sleep with smartphone night mode features, a new BYU study claims there is no difference.

Using Night Shift, an Apple iOS feature, the new study from BYU psychology professor Chad Jensen compared the sleep outcomes of 167 individuals between 18 and 24 in the following categories:

  • Those who used their phone at night with the Night Shift function turned on
  • Those who used their phone at night without Night Shift
  • Those who did not use a smartphone before bed at all

According to Jensen, there were no differences across the three groups.

“Night Shift is not superior to using your phone without Night Shift or even using no phone at all,” said Jensen.

After finding minimal differences in sleep outcomes, the study split the groups into those who averaged seven hours of sleep a night, and those who slept less than six hours.

According to the study, the individuals who got closer to the recommended nine hours of sleep "saw a slight difference in sleep quality based on phone usage." But those that did not use a phone before bed received "superior sleep quality relative to both those with normal phone use and those using Night Shift."

“This suggests that when you are super tired you fall asleep no matter what you did just before bed,” explained Jensen. “The sleep pressure is so high there is really no effect of what happens before bedtime.”


The Truth About Exercise and Appetite

Maybe you've heard the recent downer reports that exercise won't make us thin because it makes us hungry, particularly for junk food. Or could be, you've noticed firsthand that you eat a lot more on gym days than on days off. Either way, it raises the question: If working out only sets us up to blow our diet, what's the point?

For starters, some research suggests exercise doesn't always cause hunger but can curb it. "Exercise may lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite in the short term, while raising levels of peptide YY, a hormone that suppresses appetite," says study author David Stensel, Ph.D., reader in exercise metabolism at Loughborough University. That's only if the workout is intense (if you can chat, forget it), but the more intense it is, the longer the benefit seems to last. "It may be that your body needs to circulate more blood to prevent overheating," Stensel explains. Because eating would cause blood to flow to the stomach instead to aid digestion, your body dampens your appetite to prevent that.

Like all good things, this satiating effect ends—about an hour later, when your body starts to crave the energy it used up. And unfortunately, the desire to refuel may hit women harder than it does men. "Physical activity may raise concentrations of longer-term appetite-stimulating hormones like insulin and leptin in women," says Barry Braun, Ph.D., associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. What's up with the sexist hunger hormones? "It might be that women are wired to defend their body weight to preserve energy for pregnancy and lactation," Braun says.

Here's where frequent exercise can save the day (and our waistline). "It appears to help restore sensitivity to brain neurons that control satiety," says Neil King, Ph.D., professor of human movement studies at Queensland University of Technology. In other words, the more you do it, the more in tune you become with your hunger signals, which may aid in offsetting them. More motivation to sweat regularly: It can lower heart disease risk, lift mood and up your odds of a longer life overall, whether you lose weight or not. Add to all that a bangin' bod, and a passing case of tummy growls is no biggie.

A great sweat session can make you feel like a health angel—for good reason, given its life-enhancing power. "But we can feel so virtuous that we reward ourselves with some not-so-healthy habits," warns Susan Bowerman, R.D., assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Don't fall for these self-sabotaging thoughts:

My metabolism is higher after a workout, so this bite will burn right off.

Ah, the afterburn effect. That's when your body uses energy to return to a resting state. "It sounds great, but even very intense exercise lasting more than 45 minutes burns less than 100 extra calories," says Philip Clifford, Ph.D., professor of anesthesiology and physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

The bottom line Skip the cool-down nibble: Doing it five times a week saves you up to 500 calories—the equivalent of a Spin class you don't actually take!

I melted mega calories this morning. I can eat what I want today.

Define mega. Research shows we grossly overestimate our sizzle. People who burned 200 calories by walking briskly thought they had burned 825 in a study at the University of Ottawa. "And they later overate by about 350 calories based on their miscalculations," says study author Eric Doucet, Ph.D.

The bottom line Don't just guess your calories burned tally them in a reliable way using our calculator. For most women, a brisk walk zaps 5 calories per minute (225 in 45 minutes).

I kicked boot camp booty. I deserve a treat after my hard work.

True, but reward yourself with food and you're likely to stall your slim-down. "Run 40 minutes at a 9-minute-mile pace and you'll burn about 470 calories grab a Starbucks Venti Caramel Frappucino afterward and you'll replace those calories plus an extra 20," Braun says.

The bottom line "It's incredibly easy to negate the weight loss effects of exercise with a single food item, so find other ways to indulge yourself," Braun says. Try inedible rewards such as a relaxing pedicure or new songs for your workout playlist.

Candy bar pre-workout? Why not! Those will be the first calories to go.

Step away from the junk food: Women who ate high-glycemic-index foods (candy, white bread, sugary cereal) before exercising burned 55 percent less fat than those who had low-GI foods (oatmeal, yogurt), a study in the Journal of Nutrition found. "High-GI foods raise insulin concentrations, suppressing the body's ability to burn fat low-GI ones don't," says study author Emma Stevenson, Ph.D.

The bottom line Sweets are best in moderation—and not before the gym.

What—and when—you eat before you tackle that yoga mat or treadmill can push your calorie-blasting efficiency to a whole new level. Or it could totally set you back. Don't waste a perfectly good workout by downing the wrong nutrients. Check your schedule, then find the foods that can help you scorch calories at peak speed.

How long do you plan to exercise?

Less than 60 minutes, low intensity
I can carry on a convo without gasping. (walking, light strength training, yoga)

My workout is in less than an hour. You don't need to stock up for shorter bouts of low-intensity exercise they don't deplete your energy supplies as much as more intensive exercise does, says Karen Reznik Dolins, Ed.D., registered sports dietitian at Columbia University. "But be sure you're not dehydrated or hungry, or you'll fatigue faster."

Best bite: A piece of fruit and a bottle of water provide a small boost without weighing you down.

My workout is in more than an hour. If you're hungry, you have time to digest a lowfat meal, Reznik Dolins says. A mix of low-glycemic foods offer a long charge.

Best bite: 8 ounces lowfat yogurt with ¼ cup granola and a piece of fruit, or 3 slices of turkey on whole-wheat bread with fruit

Less than 60 minutes, high intensity
I'm working too hard to chitchat. (running, swimming, Spinning)

My workout is in less than an hour. "During high-intensity exercise, blood flow is diverted away from the gut to aid muscles, so digestion slows," Reznik Dolins says. If you have a meal shortly beforehand, sloshing undigested food could cause a stomachache. Haven't eaten recently? Enjoy a small snack with simple carbs for a speedy pick-me-up.

Best bite: One slice of white toast with jelly or a sports drink like Gatorade. Skip whole grains in this situation they're harder to digest.

My workout is in more than an hour. Have a meal with low-GI foods to optimize fat burn. Carbs (muscles' main energy source) are key for tougher workouts.

Best bite: A whole-wheat wrap with veggies and eggs, or a PB&J on whole-wheat bread

60 minutes or more, low intensity
I can carry on a convo without gasping. (walking, light strength training, yoga)

My workout is in less than an hour. Digestion shouldn't be a problem during low-intensity exercise, but headstands on a full stomach? Not fun. A light snack of whole grains and protein offers extended energy, says registered dietitian Kristine Clark, Ph.D., director of sports nutrition at Penn State in University Park.

Best bite: A few whole-wheat crackers and 1 string cheese, or a Luna bar

My workout is in more than an hour. To fend off hunger and fatigue once you're past the hour mark, eat a meal beforehand that includes low-GI whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein, Kristine Clark suggests. The three digest at slow but varying rates, so you have more staying power.

Best bite: 1 cup whole-grain cereal with skim milk and blueberries and 1 hard-boiled egg

60 minutes or more, high intensity
I'm working too hard to chitchat. (running, swimming, Spinning)

My workout is in less than an hour. "The closer you get to a challenging workout like this one, the more you need simple carbs that can quickly convert to energy," Reznik Dolins says. Reach for something light (100 to 200 calories) to give your muscles pep, pronto.

Best bite: 1 cup dry cereal (not whole-grain) with raisins, or a few regular crackers with jam

My workout is in more than an hour. When you're huffing and puffing for a long period, carbs are a key source of fuel for muscles, Kristine Clark says. "Have a 400- to 600-calorie meal that contains at least 60 percent low-GI carbs, with the rest protein and healthy fats."

Best bite: 1 whole-wheat bagel with 1 tablespoon reduced-fat cream cheese and 2 slices turkey, or 1 cup cooked oatmeal with skim milk and a sliced banana or 1/3 cup raisins

Your go-to workout could have a surprising effect on your appetite, eating habits and future fitness. Know what you're in for to one-up your biology.

Running or biking
If you went hard, you might not feel hungry for another hour. But because cardio uses up your glucose and glycogen, you should have a carb-rich snack, like whole-grain cereal or fruit, within 30 minutes to restock your supplies. "Muscles are most sensitive during this window the sooner you eat, the more glycogen you'll store to improve stamina in your next workout," Bowerman says.

Swimming
Taking a dip really works up an appetite. "Immersing your body in cool water makes it lose heat, and this seems to prevent the release of hormones that suppress appetite," says Michael R. Bracko, Ed.D., director of Dr. Bracko's Fitness Consulting in Calgary, Alberta. Fortunately, you can offset après-pool munchies by warming up with a brisk walk or hot drink.

Strength training
Weight training has been shown to lower levels of ghrelin, a hunger-stimulating hormone, so you might not feel like eating right after you put away the dumbbells. But you should aim to have 10 to 15 grams of protein within an hour—it helps your body repair wear and tear on muscles, Kristine Clark says. Try an egg on whole-wheat toast or ½ cup lowfat cottage cheese.

Yoga
Yogis are more likely to eat mindfully and less likely to gain weight over a 10-year period than nonpractitioners are, research in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows. Learning to focus while in uncomfortable poses may increase your ability to stay present in other tough spots, such as when you are stressed and craving ice cream. Get your Down Dog on!


How Foods May Affect Our Sleep

A growing body of research suggests that the foods you eat can affect how well you sleep, and your sleep patterns can affect your dietary choices.

This has not been a very good year for sleep.

With the coronavirus pandemic, school and work disruptions and a contentious election season contributing to countless sleepless nights, sleep experts have encouraged people to adopt a variety of measures to overcome their stress-related insomnia. Among their recommendations: engage in regular exercise, establish a nightly bedtime routine and cut back on screen time and social media.

But many people may be overlooking another important factor in poor sleep: diet. A growing body of research suggests that the foods you eat can affect how well you sleep, and your sleep patterns can affect your dietary choices.

Researchers have found that eating a diet that is high in sugar, saturated fat and processed carbohydrates can disrupt your sleep, while eating more plants, fiber and foods rich in unsaturated fat — such as nuts, olive oil, fish and avocados — seems to have the opposite effect, helping to promote sound sleep.

Much of what we know about sleep and diet comes from large epidemiological studies that, over the years, have found that people who suffer from consistently bad sleep tend to have poorer quality diets, with less protein, fewer fruits and vegetables, and a higher intake of added sugar from foods like sugary beverages, desserts and ultra-processed foods. But by their nature, epidemiological studies can show only correlations, not cause and effect. They cannot explain, for example, whether poor diet precedes and leads to poor sleep, or the reverse.

To get a better understanding of the relationship between diet and sleep, some researchers have turned to randomized controlled trials in which they tell participants what to eat and then look for changes in their sleep. A number of studies have looked at the impact of a diverse array of individual foods, from warm milk to fruit juice. But those studies often have been small and not very rigorous.

Some of these trials have also been funded by the food industry, which can bias results. One study funded by Zespri International, the world’s largest marketer of kiwi fruit, for example, found that people assigned to eat two kiwis an hour before their bedtime every night for four weeks had improvements in their sleep onset, duration and efficiency. The authors of the study attributed their findings in part to an “abundance” of antioxidants in kiwis. But importantly, the study lacked a control group, so it is possible that any benefits could have resulted from the placebo effect.

Other studies funded by the cherry industry have found that drinking tart cherry juice can modestly improve sleep in people with insomnia, supposedly by promoting tryptophan, one of the building blocks of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in many foods, including dairy and turkey, which is one of the reasons commonly given for why so many of us feel so sleepy after our Thanksgiving feasts. But tryptophan has to cross the blood-brain barrier to have any soporific effects, and in the presence of other amino acids found in food it ends up competing, largely unsuccessfully, for absorption. Studies show that eating protein-rich foods such as milk and turkey on their own actually decreases the ability of tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier.

One way to enhance tryptophan’s uptake is to pair foods that contain it with carbohydrates. That combination stimulates the release of insulin, which causes competing amino acids to be absorbed by muscles, in turn making it easier for tryptophan to cross into the brain, said Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the director of the Sleep Center of Excellence at Columbia.

Dr. St-Onge has spent years studying the relationship between diet and sleep. Her work suggests that rather than emphasizing one or two specific foods with supposedly sleep-inducing properties, it is better to focus on the overall quality of your diet. In one randomized clinical trial, she and her colleagues recruited 26 healthy adults and controlled what they ate for four days, providing them regular meals prepared by nutritionists while also monitoring how they slept at night. On the fifth day, the subjects were allowed to eat whatever they wanted.

The researchers discovered that eating more saturated fat and less fiber from foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains led to reductions in slow-wave sleep, which is the deep, restorative kind. In general, clinical trials have also found that carbohydrates have a significant impact on sleep: People tend to fall asleep much faster at night when they consume a high-carbohydrate diet compared to when they consume a high-fat or high-protein diet. That may have something to do with carbs helping tryptophan cross into the brain more easily.

But the quality of carbs matters. In fact, they can be a double-edged sword when it comes to slumber. Dr. St-Onge has found in her research that when people eat more sugar and simple carbs — such as white bread, bagels, pastries and pasta — they wake up more frequently throughout the night. In other words, eating carbs may help you fall asleep faster, but it is best to consume “complex” carbs that contain fiber, which may help you obtain more deep, restorative sleep.

“Complex carbohydrates provide a more stable blood sugar level,” said Dr. St-Onge. “So if blood sugar levels are more stable at night, that could be the reason complex carbohydrates are associated with better sleep.”

One example of a dietary pattern that may be optimal for better sleep is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes such foods as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, seafood, poultry, yogurt, herbs and spices and olive oil. Large observational studies have found that people who follow this type of dietary pattern are less likely to suffer from insomnia and short sleep, though more research is needed to confirm the correlation.

But the relationship between poor diet and bad sleep is a two-way street: Scientists have found that as people lose sleep, they experience physiological changes that can nudge them to seek out junk food. In clinical trials, healthy adults who are allowed to sleep only four or five hours a night end up consuming more calories and snacking more frequently throughout the day. They experience significantly more hunger and their preference for sweet foods increases.

In men, sleep deprivation stimulates increased levels of ghrelin, the so-called hunger hormone, while in women, restricting sleep leads to lower levels of GLP-1, a hormone that signals satiety.

“So in men, short sleep promotes greater appetite and desire to eat, and in women there is less of a signal that makes you stop eating,” said Dr. St-Onge.

Changes also occur in the brain. Dr. St-Onge found that when men and women were restricted to four hours of nightly sleep for five nights in a row, they had greater activation in reward centers of the brain in response to pepperoni pizza, doughnuts and candy compared to healthy foods such as carrots, yogurt, oatmeal and fruit. After five nights of normal sleep, however, this pattern of stronger brain responses to the junk food disappeared.

Another study, led by researchers at King’s College London, also demonstrated how proper sleep can increase your willpower to avoid unhealthy foods. It found that habitually short sleepers who went through a program to help them sleep longer — resulting in their getting roughly an hour of additional sleep each night — had improvements in their diet. The most striking change was that they cut about 10 grams of added sugar from their diets each day, the equivalent of about two and a half teaspoons.

The takeaway is that diet and sleep are entwined. Improving one can help you improve the other and vice versa, creating a positive cycle where they perpetuate one another, said Dr. Susan Redline, a senior physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School who studies diet and sleep disorders.

“The best way to approach health is to emphasize a healthy diet and healthy sleep,” she added. “These are two very important health behaviors that can reinforce each other.”


Can You Eat to Sleep?

We’re not great sleepers in this country. According to Healthy People 2020, a science-based government organization, about 25 percent of us suffer from insufficient sleep (that’s less than six hours per night) about half of every month. That’s a lot of lost z's! Some experts believe that tossing and turning at night can lead to an increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure and even heart disease. That means that a good night’s sleep may be just as important as a well-balanced diet and regular exercise!

Some food companies are going beyond the often used warm-milk solution by making nutrition bars that tout nutrients and minerals that may help you sleep better. Calcium, magnesium and fiber are a few nutrients that can help slow the digestion of carbohydrates while you snooze. A sign of this new food-to-sleep trend: the launch of a new bar called Cookies n' Dreams from NightFood that’s formulated to satisfy nighttime hunger with fewer calories. But you can also consider giving a good old glass of warm milk a modern makeover. Follow our pictogram for Banana-Cocoa Chia Milk (maple syrup is optional). Remember, food and nutrients aren’t necessarily cures for serious sleep issues, and you should always consult an expert.

Per serving: Calories 140 Fat 4.5 g (Saturated 2 g), Carbohydrate 21 g Fiber 4 g Sugars 12 g Protein 6 g Calcium 182 mg Magnesium 31 mg

Leah Brickley is a Nutritionist-Recipe Developer for Food Network Kitchen.


Foods to Help Kids Sleep

These fast and healthy bedtime snacks will help keeps your kids' hunger satisfied through the night and even help them sleep!

Do your kids beg you for food before bedtime? Mine go through stages, but the challenge is knowing when they're truly hungry and do need a bedtime snack versus when they're just stalling. If it's the former and your child didn't eat their dinner (distraction or digestion issues can be factors), try these foods and strategies to help satiate them quickly so they can get their zzz's! The key is keeping it boring and choosing foods that not only satisfy their hunger, but actually can help them get to sleep!

  • I'm typically ALL about keeping food fun when feeding your kids, but when it comes to bedtime snacks, avoid your children using it as a stall tactic by keeping these snacks as "boring" as possible while still keeping it dense in nutrients
  • choose foods that are (again) nutrient dense and contain serotonin or melatonin which make you feel good and promote sleep
  • offer 2 choices that work for you to keep it simple. No negotiating!
  • keep it to a small amount. When you eat too much before bed it can actually have the reverse effect and keep you awake

Now, for 12 of my go-to pre-bed snacks sure to keep your child's hunger at bay and help them get their sleep on!

  • pistachios (protein, vitamin B6 and magnesium)
  • cheese and crackers (protein)
  • nut butter (protein)
  • oatmeal (rich in melatonin)
  • cherries (natural source of melatonin)
  • banana (the potassium serves as a muscle relaxant)
  • pumpkin seeds (boost serotonin levels)
  • eggs (can make you sleepy due to tryptophan)
  • kiwi (full of vitamin C and E, serotonin and folate to help you snooze).
  • edamame (rich in isoflavones which increase serotonin levels.
  • strawberries (B6 can promote melatonin production into high gear)
  • camomile tea (you can even put a little cool tea in your babies bottle which I did with all 3 of my kids)

How do you do bedtime snacks? Share any of your strategies in the comments!


6 Surprising Benefits Of Getting Enough Sleep

As a college professor, I am regularly surrounded by sleep-deprived young adults who sometimes wear their chronic lack of sleep as a badge of honor, comparing notes on who got less shut-eye before a big exam.

But the truth is that a lack of sleep – whether cramming for an exam or burning the candle at both ends for another reason – is counterproductive. Research has clearly shown that adequate sleep helps us to do better at mental tasks and also at committing information to memory, so you can stay sharp. Here are six more reasons to make an early bedtime a priority.

Sleep fights off colds. A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in April found that people who reported sleeping five hours or less each night were more likely to experience a cold or other infection in the past 30 days. This supports previous studies, including one that purposefully administered the cold virus to participants to see who went on to get sick the subjects who slept fewer hours were almost three times more likely to develop a cold when compared to those who slept eight or more hours.

Sleep improves exercise. Exercise has been shown to improve the ability to get a good night's sleep, and better sleep improves workouts. Conversely, research has shown that when you are sleep-deprived, exercise just seems harder, leading to a less intense or shorter workout. Studies of athletes indicate performance in sports may suffer when a person is sleep-deprived, and that recovery takes longer.

Sleep keeps your appetite hormones in check. Your body has hormones that are at work constantly creating feelings of hunger and fullness. Human laboratory studies have shown these hunger hormones – ghrelin, leptin and insulin – are disrupted when sleep is cut short. Additionally, studies have found feelings of hunger increase when subjects are sleep-deprived, and those who haven't gotten enough rest have a tendency to choose higher-calorie "comfort" foods.

Sleep helps prevent migraines. A study conducted in South Korea had migraine sufferers use a headache-tracking diary on their smartphone to try to identify common migraine triggers. Sleep deprivation and fatigue, along with stress, rounded out the top three identified triggers. Another study published in the journal Headache demonstrated a decrease in migraines when women who were prone to them got more sleep.

Sleep enhances blood sugar control. When healthy young men went without adequate sleep for three nights in a study published in the journal Diabetologia, they ended up with pre-diabetic conditions. Researchers found the free fatty acids were elevated in their blood, which makes it much harder for the body's insulin to do its job of decreasing blood sugar. Another study on almost 15,000 Korean adults found a link between shorter sleep deprivation and higher blood sugar, especially in men.

Sleep fights obesity. Many observational studies have shown a link between obesity and inadequate sleep in children and adults. This is probably due to a number of factors. To start, sleepy people are less likely to exercise and tend to make poorer eating decisions. However, other factors are likely also at play, such as a sluggish metabolic rate and an increase in food cravings. One study published in the journal Obesity demonstrated a lower morning metabolic rate when subjects were deprived of sleep, while another study from the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated more weight gain in subjects that were put on a sleep deprivation program, when compared to subjects who were allowed to get enough sleep.

So how can you get enough sleep? Start with a regular bedtime schedule and routine, add in exercise during the day, cut down on caffeine after noon, limit nicotine and alcohol, make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet, and seek help from a sleep specialist if needed.


Almonds

Magnesium promotes the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter than decreases brain and nervous system activity, which helps the body and mind to relax. Not to mention, many people don&apost meet their daily magnesium needs.

Some insomnia sufferers have had significant sleep improvements by getting in more magnesium-rich foods, and almonds are the best source (a 1-oz serving provides approximately 25% of daily needs), along with being a top anti-inflammatory food. (Buy it: Blue Diamond Lightly Salted Almonds, $7, Target)