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Cross-Cultural Counseling and Psychotherapy for Expatriates

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Sleep, Food that Helps, Food that Hurts

  Sleep and Mood

Sleep and mood are closely connected; poor or inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress.

Chronic insomnia may increase the risk of developing a mood disorder, such as anxiety or depression.

Keeping a regular sleep schedule is especially important for people with bipolar disorders.  Disturbances in circadian sleep rhythms are implicated in manic and hypomanic episodes.

Poor sleep and feelings of depression or anxiety can be helped through a variety of treatments, starting with improved sleep habits, and, if needed, extending to behavioral interventions and an assessment for a sleep or mood disorder.

The Good

A one ounce serving of Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, a mineral that calms the body.

Cottage cheese contains tryptophan, a sleep inducing amino acid that relaxes the body and mind. Soy, milk, tofu, hummus, and lentils are also good sources.

Sesame seeds are rich in tryptophan and carbohydrates with a medium protein content, perfect for before bedtime.

Whole unrefined grains like brown rice and oats have a calming effect on the mind.

Chlorophyll-rich foods like spinach help you get to sleep. Spinach is also high in magnesium.

The Bad

Refined carbohydrates drain the body of vitamin B, which is needed to release serotonin. When the body can’t get enough, tension, fear, and depression can keep you awake.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG), causes a stimulant reaction in some people.

Bacon contains tyramine, which releases norepinephrine, a stimulant that keeps you awake. Other foods containing tyramine include chocolate, eggplant, ham, potatoes, sauerkraut, sugar, sausage, tomatoes, and wine.

Alcohol can keep you up at night, especially if you have more than one drink. While alcohol can make you tired, you’re likely to awaken in the middle of the night.

Chocolate contains tyramine, sugar, and caffeine.

Lynn Martin


  • Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC April 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM Reply

    Oh, my gosh, Lynn! The new website looks BEAUTIFUL! So happy for you! Haven’t had a chance to read through everything yet but thought I might get lucky and be your first commenter to say “congrats!”

  • Lynn April 11, 2014 at 7:01 PM Reply

    Thanks for the feedback Tamara.. I am excited about the blog, and love the way it lays out. I’m going to enjoy using it.

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