Brain Bulletin #80 - Seven Foods that Can Help You Get a Better Sleep

in Brain Bulletin

Are you getting at least seven hours of good sleep each night?

Decreased sleep is associated with lower blood flow to your brain. This can lead to you making bad decisions. 

 "It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it." ~ John Steinbeck

My last Brain Bulletin was called "Nine Habits that Can Steal Your Sleep". It was the most popular one ever. It clearly stuck a chord. This BB is a follow up.

In my live presentations, I often ask how many people feel that they are getting enough sleep. Very few hands go up. Not surprising.  We are sleeping an average of one hour less per night than fifty years ago. Yet our biology hasn't changed.

I read this in the Vancouver Sun newspaper recently:

"Imagine medical research linked a particular food with all the following: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, some forms of cancer, depression, decreased immunity to bacteria and viruses, lower IQ, problems with focusing, learning and concentration, and a decrease in alertness, leading to accidents and injuries.

One would expect most people would avoid any such food like the plague, while others would call on governments to impose an immediate ban on sales of the product. But, alas, the culprit here is not food; rather, it's something even more common than food: sleep deprivation." (May 2, 2012)

With so much science behind the need to get a good night's sleep, it may be time for you to make some changes.

I have been trying to get more sleep. Here's why:

- If you don't get enough sleep, individual groups of neurons will take "naps" during the day while you are awake!

- If you sleep well, your brain has a chance to consolidate long-term memory.

 - When you sleep, your brain 'catches up' on processing information that you received when you were awake. (Parts of your brain that are involved with this are not available to do this when you are awake. They are busy doing other things.)

- Sleep helps you to be more creative.

 - When you are sleep deprived you are more likely to make poor dietary choices.

  (Poor exercise choices, too.)

- Getting less that six hours of sleep per night increases your risk for stroke, heart problems, and viral infections.

We could go on, but you get the point.

Here's something proactive you can do. Food may help. Try any of these seven foods a couple of hours before bedtime to help you brain release 'sleep chemicals':

1. Bananas - You get magnesium, serotonin, and melatonin (natural sleep regulator).

2. Cherry juice - Research shows that 1/4 cup of cherry juice can help you sleep 40 minutes longer. It increases melatonin.

3. Oatmeal - Also rich in melatonin.

4. Honey - Tells your brain to turn off orexin (a neuropeptide linked to alertness).

5. Whole-wheat bread - Eat this with banana and it helps tryptophan get to your brain. Once there, it changes into serotonin and off you go....zzzzzzz.

6. Warm skim milk - Contains tryptophan and this has a natural sedating effect.

7. Almonds and walnuts - Contains magnesium and tryptophan...increases seratonin. Nuts are great brain food, too.

I take my brain health seriously. How about you?

Remember: Change is not a reaction, it is a choice.

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 It has been a great month. I have been speaking at the B.C. CEO Forums in Vancouver. The sessions are called "Brain Power for CEOs". I will be off to present this in Calgary on June 19.

I also spoke to students at Southridge School, teachers at Templeton Secondary, lots of public sessions, and keynoted and closed the BOFS Annual Conference in Ontario.'s a good thing I'm getting my sleep.

Next month: I will speak to DTAC in Delta, present "Leadership Genius" to post-secondary deans, Mission Teacher's Union, and a bunch of other stuff.

Big announcement: On August 2 in Dublin, Ireland. I will be presenting with Poll Moussoulides ( Our topics include: Leadership in Motion, Leadership Genius, High Performance Brain, Brain Boosting Secrets for Work & Life, Communicating with the Brain in Mind. You are invited. More details to follow. Also, if you would like Poll and I to work specifically with your organization, please let us know.

My favorite book this month was "The 46 Rules of Genius" by Marty Neumeir.The book does a nice job of tackling the myth of the "creative type". You can, in fact, learn to be creative. I liked it a lot.

  And......always remember: "You are a genius!"