One of the most important things you can do to maintain good health and happiness is to sleep well.
The good news for fermented food lovers is that eating our beloved krauts and pickles can actually help to alleviate anxiety, which indirectly leads to restful slumber.
Researchers have found that people who ate fermented foods and exercised regularly have less
social anxiety.  In addition, fermented foods may also increase our production of GABA
(Gama-aminobutyrate acid), a neurotransmitter that promotes calm and quiet in our brain.
So, instead of sleeping pills, chow down on your homemade kraut and other fermented edibles.
Three cheers for good microbes, please!
Of course, there are other factors that affect our quality of sleep, such as artificial lights in your bedroom, or not taking in adequate sunlight during the day. The following is an excerpt from my book,
Happy Foods, which contain lots of gluten-free recipes and tips on how to boost your mood and well-being.
There are 27 steps, so please scroll down to read them. Don't fret. You do not need to do them all!
Simply choose 3 or 4 that appeal to you and start. You'll be amazed at how good you will feel after a night of restful slumber.
Steps to Serene Sleep
Suffering from insomnia or other sleep troubles can make one feel desperate and frazzled. Luckily, there are many things that we can do to help relax the body and mind and prepare ourselves for the luxurious gift of rejuvenating slumber. Twenty-seven steps are listed below: if you can do them all, you will be well rewarded with radiant health and happiness! However, it’s perfectly fine to start with whichever steps feel easy and good to do.
• Get to bed by 10:00 p.m. Set the alarm for 9:00 pm to go to bed. Turn off all electronics, dim the lights, and wind down. The time between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. is when the liver is most active, effectively detoxifying all the gunk we absorbed throughout the day. If you stay up beyond the “liver” hours, toxins back up and flow back into your bloodstream.
• Sleep in complete darkness. When any light, especially artificial light, is detected by the pineal gland (a tiny endocrine organ in your brain), release of melatonin comes to a halt. Get blackout curtains if you are living in an area where streetlights penetrate your window treatments. (See the Shopping Guide at the end of chapter 8.)
• Keep your bedroom free of any electronic and wireless devices, such as TV, wireless router, and computers. Do not put your cell phone by your bed. Put it in another room where you can still hear it, but far enough away so that the radiation does not disturb your pineal gland.
• Digital clocks that show time in the dark should also be removed, or you can put a towel over them to mask the artificial light.
• Refrain from eating three hours prior to bed.
• Avoid caffeine after 3:00 p.m. It can take six or more hours to clear caffeine from the body.
• Avoid alcohol three to four hours before bed. Alcohol intake disrupts REM sleep and will also upset blood sugar balance, and cause dehydration.
• Keep your bedroom cool at around 60–70°F.
• Wear socks in bed when the weather is chilly. Since circulation to our feet is poor, they tend to feel cold, which can prevent sound sleep.
• Organic bedding matters! Especially if you have allergies. Synthetic mattresses and foam pillows release harmful petrochemicals. This off-gassing can cause breathing problems and accumulation of toxins.
• Exercise during the day and refrain from doing so at night to prevent cortisol from edging back up, which may cause poor sleep and a desire to eat late at night.
• Unwind by listening to relaxing music or reading something soothing to help you go to bed.
• Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary; avoid eating in bed or working in the bedroom.
• If your bed buddy snores, sleep in separate rooms! It’s really worth it.
• If your partner has sleep apnea, that needs to addressed with a medical professional.
• Get at least twenty minutes of sunlight during the day. Take a walk for lunch, sit down in the sun for a cup of tea, enjoy a walk with your dog, or grab your rays of sunshine in a park before heading to work. Exposing ourselves to daylight helps with the production of serotonin and also attunes our pineal gland to the circadian rhythm.
• Turn off the TV and get off computers and other electrical devices at least an hour before bed. You‘ll find that you can sleep much better, because watching a screen or answering an email can trigger a rise in cortisol. In addition, the neurons in our brain get revved up and can take as much as an hour to
return to a calm state.
• Dim the lights after sunset. When your eyes are exposed to blue and white light spectrums your pineal gland will not secrete the melatonin you need for a good night’s sleep.
• Do deep breathing for ten to twenty minutes before bed. This helps calm your central nervous system and relax the mind into a state of meditation.
• Take a hot bath with Epsom salts before bed. The magnesium contained in Epsom salts will help your body relax and also facilitate detoxification. Add three to four cups to a hot bath, and soak for at least fifteen minutes. Add a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender or rose, to make it a sensual experience.
• Use a sleep sachet (recipe on page 128).
• Ask someone to give you a foot massage, or do it yourself. Meridians on the feet are directly linked to different parts of the body. Massaging your feet at night can help calm your mind and lower cortisol.
• Make a list of all the things you are grateful for and find joy in.
• If you have noisy neighbors, wear earplugs.
• To help relaxation and calm anxiety, brew yourself a cup of chamomile, valerian, or oat straw tea and drink it one hour before bed.
• Make it a habit to gaze at the moon every night. City dwellers seldom follow the changing lunar phases throughout the month. By being aware of the waning and waxing cycles, we can better align ourselves to the natural biorhythms.
• Instead of being shocked awake by the jarring noise of a conventional alarm clock or the beep from you smartphone, use a dawn simulator, which will cast a rich glowing light, simulating the coming of dawn, and then chime gently. (See the Shopping Guide at the end of chapter 8.)
Want to read more?
1. Psychiatric Research, 2015 Aug 15;228(2):203-8. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.04.023. Epub 2015 Apr 28.