*Original article written for Stone Soup Blog*
At least 40 million American suffer from chronic sleep disorders, while an additional 20 million experience occasional problems with sleeping. Forty-four percent of Americans report they have moderate-to-high stress and that their stress levels have increased over the past five years. And more than one-third of adults in the United States are obese and close to the same amount are overweight.
With statistics like this, it is obvious that Americans’ sleeping habits, stress levels and diet are not working in harmony for better health. In fact, it seems they are working against one another.
You can read the full article here, but listed below are quick tips to help manage stress and prevent sleepless nights.
To help promote a restful night, implement these suggestions into your daily routine:
- Avoid eating meals three to four hours before bedtime.
- Caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep in some individuals, so know how your body responds to both.
- Try including foods that are rich in melatonin in your diet like tart cherries, oatmeal and walnuts.
- Aim to hit the sack and wake up in the morning around the same time each day to help form a regular sleep pattern.
- Create a relaxing environment for sleep and minimize screen time prior to heading to bed.
To help manage stress, try these calm-inducing, mood-improving tips:
- Don’t Skip the Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates have acquired a bad reputation from some popular fad diets, but carbs are essential in the diet and can help boost serotonin levels, which can reduce stress and improve mood. Choose complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal and sweet potatoes to help ditch the stress.
- Enjoy a Cup of Lavender or Chamomile Tea
Warm beverages are comforting and can help calm the digestive tract. Lavender has a reputation for relieving anxiety and alleviating headaches. Another added benefit of lavender is that it can help ease insomnia (sleep is key for managing stress!). Chamomile tea is great before heading to bed to help you rest easy through the night.
- Grab Some Dark Chocolate
Chalk up another health benefit for dark chocolate! Rich in antioxidants, this sweet treat can help reduce stress hormones. Just be sure to watch your portion size. One ounce a day is enough to provide health benefits, and contains about 150 calories and 9 grams of fat.
- Let’s See More Omega-3’s
To improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety, go for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like wild salmon, sardines, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds. These heart healthy fats can also help ease depression.
- Let it Go
Allow yourself to get lost in a hobby you enjoy to help take your mind off of stressful issues, even if it’s for a short period of time. Yoga and other forms of exercise are a great release and can help put things into perspective.
Eat better. Sleep better. Stress Less. A perfect harmony.