If there's one thing that a lot of people can say has been a side effect of 2020, it's sleeplessness. Between the pandemic, working from home , always having the kids around and, let's be honest , trying not to panic over all of the above, striving to get quality rest has been a real challenge. Understandably so.
As I was recently recommending some healthy sleep tips to someone I know, I happened upon an all-natural sleepy time lotion that some of you might want to try (click here for the recipe). Yet as I thought about all of the things that we can externally do to make resting better, my mind then wandered over to things that we can do from the inside out too.
In walks, food. While it's always a good idea to have your last meal around 2 ½ hours before calling it a night (because your body can digest your meals and reduce heartburn and insomnia that way), there are certain foods that can play a direct role in you getting some quality zzz's each and every evening. So, if you've tried just about everything and have still found yourself tossing and turning for hours on end, check out the 10 foods that very well could bring an end to all of that.
Let's start off with bananas, shall we? This is the kind of fruit that I have a pretty fickle relationship with because they have to be a perfect kind of ripe, with absolutely no bruises, in order for me to truly enjoy one. Anyway, if bananas are something that you eat on the regular, you are doing your body a favor on a few levels. That's because bananas contain a good amount of fiber, manganese, antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, protein, and Vitamin B6. Bananas also can help to keep your blood sugar levels intact, improve the health of your heart, help to keep your kidneys strong and can also help to relieve the discomfort of exercise-related muscle cramps (thanks to the potassium that's in them).
The reason why it's a good idea to snack on one or even make yourself a homemade banana smoothie a couple of hours before turning in is that, for one thing, the magnesium and potassium combo creates a wonderful way for your nerves and muscles to relax. Also, bananas have the amino acid tryptophan in them which makes it easier to feel calm and peaceful—sleepy even.
Banana Sleep Hack: Banana Tea Recipe
As far as dark leafy greens go, while I personally prefer collards over kale, I'll enjoy a kale salad or some homemade kale chips, every now and again because I know how good they are for me. Kale is considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. What that means is it's got such a high amount of vitamins and minerals that you can receive a ton of what you need daily, nutrition-wise, just by consuming kale alone. For instance, did you know that kale contains almost 700 percent of Vitamin K, a little over 200 percent of the Vitamin A, and around 130 percent of the Vitamin C daily value that your system requires? Also, kale is high in fiber to keep you regular, antioxidants that fight off free radicals, and compounds that help to prevent cancer cells from forming too.
Since kale also has a fair amount of magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and since all of these are nerve relaxers, that's why kale gets a shout-out for being another food that can make going to sleep easier to do.Kale Sleep Hack: Vegetarian Kale Soup Recipe
If you are a melon fan, you're always looking out for your health if you're eating cantaloupe. It's loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene (a form of Vitamin A), fiber, and potassium. Since it's also made up of 90 percent water, cantaloupe is a bona fide way to help to prevent dehydration. Some other health benefits include it being the kind of fruit that improves heart and eye health as well as improving your digestion.
Now check it. Did you know that dehydration can actually play a role in us not being able to fall or stay asleep? The backstory is that when we don't have enough fluid in our system, it can make our mouth and nasal drier which can result in sleep-disruptive snoring. Also, the antioxidants that are in this particular melon are actually proven to promote a better night's rest as well.
Cantaloupe Sleep Hack: Cantaloupe Sorbet Recipe
No matter what kind of nuts you prefer, they are a good thing for you to snack on. Nuts are a great source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, selenium, manganese, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, and Vitamin E, as well as antioxidants. That alone helps to explain why you should chomp on a few, a couple of times a week. Nuts are also awesome when it comes to lowering cholesterol, reducing bodily inflammation, reducing your risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke, improving the lining of your arteries, and helping you to feel full if you're trying to lose weight.
Aside from the magnesium in nuts, something else that makes them a cool sleep aid is the fact that they've got melatonin in them too. That's a hormone that helps to induce sleep while also regulating your internal clock so that your body gets sleepy on somewhat of a schedule. So, if you're someone who has trouble falling asleep every night, you might want to have a handful of nuts about three hours before bedtime. It could help to lull you to sleep quicker (almonds have a good amount of melatonin in them, by the way).
Nut Sleep Hack: Almond Butter Recipe
5. Tart Cherry Juice
I dig cherries anyway, so it was super easy to make the transition over to tart cherry juice when I found out that it was a great way to get my body to feel calmer and more relaxed. Anyway, as far as its health benefits go, tart cherry juice (which is the kind of juice that is made from Montmorency cherries) is a solid source of fiber, protein, and vitamins A and C while also having a good amount of manganese, potassium, and copper in it too. The reason why tart cherry juice is a smart juice to add to your diet overall is that it can also help to reduce muscle soreness after working out, lessen arthritic and gout-related discomfort, promote brain health (thanks to its antioxidants and plant compounds), strengthen your immune system and lower your blood pressure as well.
Drinking a cold or even warmed-up cup of tart cherry juice is a fabulous sleep agent because it's rich in melatonin, tryptophan, and also anthocyanins (water-soluble pigments that give cherries their red color). The cool thing about anthocyanins is they can help your body to create even more melatonin while lengthening the amount of time that it remains in your system. Just make sure that it's 100 percent tart cherry juice. The cocktail stuff is loaded with sugar and since sugar is a stimulant, I'm pretty sure you can see how drinking it would be counterproductive like a mug.
Tart Cherry Juice Sleep Hack: Tart Cherry Sleepytime Elixir
A food that is basically a multivitamin in each serving is eggs. They are super high in protein, they've got a good amount of vitamins A, B, D, E, zinc, folate, selenium, calcium, and zinc, and they are considered to be a "healthy fat" that can help to lower your cholesterol levels. Eggs also contain choline that can help to build healthy cell membranes, antioxidants that can improve your vision, and amino acids that can increase muscle mass and make your bones stronger.
And what will eating a hard-boiled egg or omelet in the evening do for you? Well, the white of an egg helps your body to produce more melatonin. Also, one of the amino acids that eggs have in them is tryptophan and well, you already know what that does.
Egg Sleep Hack: A Bedtime Beverage (with egg yolks, carob powder, maple syrup and more)
As far as dips go, hummus is pretty cool. If you've ever wondered exactly what hummus is, it's a Middle Eastern dish that is made up of chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic powder. A lot of vegetarians and vegans adore it because it's pretty off-the-charts when it comes to how much protein it contains. Plus, hummus is full of fiber, manganese, copper, folate, magnesium, iron, and zinc. All of these nutrients work together to help to fight body inflammation, keep your gut in good condition (since 80 percent of our immune system is in our gut, that's definitely a good thing), lower your blood sugar levels, reduce your risk for heart disease and also, since it's gluten, dairy and nut-free, if you've got a sensitivity to any of those things, you can enjoy hummus with absolutely no worries.
If you've ever had hummus and then found yourself yawning 30 minutes later, that's not a mere coincidence. Hummus is another food that has tryptophan in it and, thanks to the traces of Vitamin B6 that it also contains, eating it before turning in can help to regulate your internal clock so that your body is better able to maintain some sort of sleep schedule.
Hummus Sleep Hack: Easy Hummus Recipe
For as long as I live, I doubt I will ever get over how something as sweet as honey can be as good for our overall health and well-being too (plus, it never expires, did you know that?). Honey is really good for you because it's full of antioxidants and antibacterial and antifungal properties; ones that can help to lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels, suppress coughs (especially in children), clear up congestion, and can even help wounds and pimples to heal at a much faster rate.
The really cool thing about honey, sleep-wise, is that aside from the fact that honey helps melatonin to get to your brain at a faster pace, what I also learned a few years back, is honey also provides your brain with enough fuel to actually stay asleep. How? Well, about a teaspoon of honey before bedtime gives your liver enough energy to produce the glycogen (a form of glucose) that you need for the insulin levels in your body to raise enough for tryptophan to release from your brain and produce serotonin—a natural chemical that stabilizes your mood and helps to relax you. So yeah, if you've been feeling restless, a little bit of honey sweetness may be the solution to all of your sleep-related worries.Honey Sleep Hack: Honey Butter Recipe
Something that I like to snack on throughout the day is grapes (frozen ones are especially bomb!). Believe it or not, grapes actually have their fair share of protein in them. They also have an impressive amount of vitamins A and K, copper, and fiber too. Plus, the antioxidants in grapes can help to prevent chronic diseases, their plant compounds can fight off certain cancer cells, the potassium in grapes can help to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and they also contain properties that can improve both your moods as well as your memory.
Since grapes are another fruit that is full of water (approximately 82 percent), that's one reason why they make the "help you to sleep" list. Yet, what really makes them dope is they contain melatonin and again, since that's a sleep-regulating hormone, well—how could you go wrong by snacking on a handful of grapes at bedtime?Grape Sleep Hack: Grape Salsa Recipe
10. Whole Grains
Whole oats. Whole wheat. Buckwheat. Millet. Quinoa. Brown rice. Popcorn. These are just a handful of examples of what's considered to be whole-grain food. So, if you're someone who likes to have a heaping bowl of oatmeal in the morning or to snack on popcorn while watching television, you're actually doing yourself a world of good. That's because whole grains contain the entire grain kernel—the bran, endosperm, and germ—so that you're able to gain all of the nutrients from the grain before it's been processed. This means that you're able to partake of a high amount of fiber, protein, antioxidants, plant compounds, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, and B vitamins that your body needs in order to maintain optimal health. Also, whole grains help to lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and obesity.
The main thing that makes whole grains stellar in the help-you-to-sleep department is the magnesium that's in them. As it calms your nerves and muscles, it can also bind to your gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, so that you're able to remain in your sleep cycle without any disruption. How scientifically outstanding is that?
Whole Grain Hack: You can get 50 different recipes to create your favorite popcorn flavor here . Enjoy and sweet dreams, sis.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find , there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecole exclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause , marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression , anxiety , like all of it, mental health challenges , all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry ’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy . If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures , and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood , her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff , which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You , which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Kerry Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha are one of Hollywood’s notoriously private couples, but since the release of her memoir, Thicker Than Water , the Scandal actress has been more open about their union. The mother of two stopped by The Drew Barrymore Show and shared details about how they met. The beautiful couple met at Drew’s family theater, The Barrymore Theater, in 2009, where Kerry made her Broadway debut. She played Susan in David Mamet’s Race .
"I was doing my Broadway debut. It’s such a storied, important theater," the Emmy award-winning actress shared. "It was my first time on Broadway, and now I write about it in my book, so it has another fun legend to fill all the beautiful things that have happened at that theater."
Kerry and Nnamdi met backstage, and the author revealed whether it was love at first sight or a slow burn. Here’s a hint: it was “a little bit of both.”
"You talk to people like my parents who’ve been married for as long as they’ve been married. I think both are important. I think that first sight thing for me was really important and undeniable, but I think the slow burn is what keeps you going," she said. "We’ve been married 10 years now, so it's like an immediate with a great slow burn that I hope will keep burning."
We couldn’t agree more. In a past interview, the UnPrisioned star explained why they kept their relationship private for so long, and while talking to Drew, she revealed they even used code names when they were getting married.
"We had some fun with code names, so Jason Wu made my wedding gown, and I adore him,” she said. “He’s the person who made Michelle Obama ’s Inaugural gown. He was secretly custom-making this wedding gown for me, but we used to say that it was for the Moroccan premiere of Scandal .”
Kerry Washington Reveals How She Met Her Husband | The Drew Barrymore Show
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