Sleep Apnea Dentist

  • Why Potatoes Are the Perfect Food for Sleep 

    Original Article | by Stephanie Eckelkamp · March 8, 2022, The Wellnest

    If you struggle with sleep, chances are you’ve tried it all: eye masks, reducing nighttime screen timeguided meditations, and more. But did you know nutrition can be another tool to help you slumber?

    Sweet potatoes, in particular, are a lovely little package of good carbs and sleep-promoting micronutrients. While it may seem like a strange pick, there are a few reasons why potatoes are some of the best foods to eat for better sleep. 

    1. POTATOES HELP STABILIZE BLOOD SUGAR

    study in the Journal of Sleep Research found carbohydrates were associated with less difficulty staying asleep—but only complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are carbs composed of fibers and starches (think: the kind you find in whole plant foods such as potatoes and other veggies, legumes, and whole grains). They digest more slowly than the simple carbs present in sugary foods, refined grains, and baked goods. This means complex carbs lead to a slower, steadier rise and fall in blood sugar, not the type of blood sugar surge and subsequent drop that interferes with sleep. 

    Sugary foods and refined carbs, on the other hand, can cause a blood sugar spike and subsequent drop about four hours later—and this drop is associated with increased production of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which promotes alertness. Translation: Not a recipe for good sleep.

    2. POTATOES HELP YOUR BODY PREPARE FOR SLEEP

    Sweet potatoes still have a moderate impact on blood sugar, but that isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the nutrients they contain make them one of the best tryptophan foods for sleep. “They have the right amount of complex carbohydrates to elicit an insulin response that clears the way for the amino acid tryptophan to flood the brain with less competition from other amino acids,” says Judes Scharman Draughon, MS, RDN, author of 12 Fixes to Healthy. “More tryptophan in the brain helps promote more serotonin production and consequently more of the sleep-enhancing hormone melatonin.” 

    3. POTATOES CONTAIN SLEEP-SUPPORTING VITAMINS AND MINERALS

    Think of sweet potatoes like a natural (and delicious) sleep supplement. “They have the right balance of nutrients like potassium and vitamin B6 to stimulate the production of the sleep hormones serotonin and melatonin,” says Scharman Draughon. Sweet potatoes also contain magnesium, which aids in the production of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which calms nerve activity and helps you relax. 

    What about white potatoes? They’re not as nutrient-rich, but as long as you’re not eating them in the form of French fries, go ahead and give them a try. “White potatoes produce similar sleep effects as sweet potatoes, but sweet potatoes contain more tryptophan than white potatoes and a nice dose of beta-carotene,” says Scharman Draughon.

    HOW TO EAT POTATOES FOR BETTER SLEEP

    Whatever potato you choose, don’t eat it too late in the evening. “Eating any food within 60 minutes of going to bed can negatively affect your sleep,” says Scharman Draughon. Your best bet: Incorporate it into your dinner several hours before bed, or (if you’re still hungry) have half a potato as a small late-night snack a bit closer to bedtime. 

    “Eating a potato for dinner or at least four hours before bed may promote better sleep than eating it an hour before bed,” Scharman Draughon says “It takes time for all these sleep-promoting reactions to occur in the body.” That said, everybody is a little different, so you may need to experiment to find your ideal potato-eating window. 

    And if you can stomach it, eat the potato skin, too! This provides an extra dose of fiber which promotes balanced blood sugar—and eating enough fiber every day has been associated with improved sleep. Drizzling your baked potato with a little Greek yogurt, olive oil, avocado, or almond butter—all of which provide a dose of healthy fats—helps further stabilize blood sugar and aids in the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients such as beta-carotene (which helps support healthy eyes and skin and a stronger immune system). 

    THE BEST FOODS FOR SLEEP

    Aside from potatoes and sweet potatoes, what are some other healthy bedtime snacks? Here are five foods to eat for better sleep:

    OATS

    Oats are another complex carb that may have a similar sleep-promoting effect to potatoes. They also produce enough insulin to help clear the way for tryptophan to get to the brain. Plus, they contain a healthy dose of vitamin B6 and melatonin, making them one of the best bedtime snacks. but complex carbs aren’t the only way to enhance sleep. 

    KIWI

    Craving something sweet before bed? Good news: Kiwi is one of the best snacks you can have before bedtime. That’s because they have an unusually high serotonin content, according to Scharman Draughon. 

    MILK

    Turns out, the age-old tradition of having a glass of milk before bed holds up. According to Scharman Draughon, it’s one of the best foods for deep sleep. “Drinking milk in the evening may help you sleep, as it contains a component known as casein trypsin hydrolysate (CTH), which binds to a receptor in the brain to suppress nerve signaling and promote sleep,” she says.

    CHERRIES

    “Tart cherries, with their high concentration of both melatonin and antioxidant capacity, also enhance sleep,” says Scharman Draughon. In fact, research shows that tart cherry juice before bed improves both sleep duration and sleep quality. Looking for some cherry bedtime snack ideas? Consider making a simple tart cherry smoothie with frozen tart cherries, magnesium-rich almond butter, milk (or non-dairy milk such as almond milk or oat milk), and a bit of easy-to-digest protein like HUM’s plant-based vanilla protein powder, Core Strength. In addition to sleep-promoting micronutrients, this blend contains protein, complex carbs, and fats to promote stable blood sugar. 

    CHAMOMILE TEA

    For something lighter that you can sip closer to bedtime, try chamomile tea. This cozy beverage has been shown to improve sleep quality and quell anxiety, thanks in part to an antioxidant called apigenin, which appears to promote muscle relaxation and sleepiness. For something extra dreamy,  try one of these bedtime latte recipes.

    KEEP IN MIND, YOUR OVERALL DIET MATTERS THE MOST 

    While some individual foods may offer sleep-promoting properties when consumed closer to bedtime, your overall eating pattern throughout the day is even more important.  

    One study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that even just one day of eating low fiber, high saturated fat foods negatively influenced participants’ sleep, in part, by interfering with slow wave sleep, which is considered the most restorative sleep stage. Additionally, eating a higher percentage of calories from sugar and refined carbohydrates was associated with waking up during the night, likely due to fluctuations in blood sugar.

    Eating low-fiber, high-sugar, and high-saturated fat foods during the day can also drive your urge for less healthy late-night snacking, which can further interfere with sleep, says Scharman Draughon. At meals, aim for a balance of protein, high-fiber complex carbs (veggies, whole grains, certain fruits), and a healthy source of fat (olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, seeds, salmon).

    THE TAKEAWAY

    Potatoes, especially sweet potatoes, offer a great combination of complex carbohydrates for steady blood sugar, along with vitamins and minerals that enhance the body’s production of sleep-promoting hormones and neurotransmitters. Try incorporating them into your dinner or a small evening snack for deeper, more restful sleep. Pro tip: Half a baked sweet potato slathered with almond butter and sprinkled with cinnamon is almost like dessert. 

    BEAUTY ZZZZ™

    Helps promote a restful beauty sleep*SHOP NOW

    RECENTSUPPLEMENTS

    SHOULD YOU TAKE A PRENATAL DHA SUPPLEMENT?MIND

    I TRIED COLD WATER THERAPY AND MY MORNINGS HAVE NEVER…FOOD

    MEET THE WINNERS OF THE HUM X DIVERSIFY DIETETICS 2022…BODY

    HOW MUCH WEIGHT CAN YOU ACTUALLY LOSE IN A MONTH?…

    POPULARBODY

    WHAT CAUSES (AND HELPS WITH) VAGINAL DRYNESS? AN OB-GYN…BODY

    3 SURPRISING CAUSES OF BODY ODOR WORTH KNOWINGBODY

    WHAT YOUR POOP IS TELLING YOU ABOUT YOUR HEALTH,…MINDSUPPLEMENTS

    MEET THE AMINO ACID THAT CAN HELP YOU FEEL CALM AND…

  • What Is Sleep Apnea?

    Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired, even after a full night’s sleep, you may have sleep apnea.

    Woman with Sleep Apnea Snoring

    There are two types of sleep apnea:

    Obstructive Sleep Apnea

    The more common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when the throat muscles relax. It is an anatomical and neurological problem. During sleep, your airway collapses and blocks air from passing through. Some sleep apnea patients may gasp, snore or choke. Some are completely silent. Not all people who have sleep apnea snore. Not all people who snore have sleep apnea.

    Central Sleep Apnea

    The lesser common form of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, occurs when the brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles during sleep. Your body essentially “forgets to breathe”.

    What are the effects?

    This roller coaster sleep pattern leads to a loss of energy, concentration, productivity and an inability to stay awake during less active tasks. This may include reading, watching television and driving. In severe cases, the continuous oxygen deprivation caused by sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and even sudden death. There may be a genetic component to this disorder as it often occurs within families.

    Can Sleep Apnea Be Resolved?

    Generally, in cases of very mild sleep apnea, symptoms have been resolved with weight loss, a reduction of alcohol intake, or a change in sleep position. Sleep experts suggest that most people with sleep apnea should not sleep on their backs, but instead on their left side.

    In more serious cases, oral appliance therapy which repositions the lower jaw and the tongue are very helpful to many patients and also those whose only problem is disruptive snoring. These devices gently keep your jaw forward during sleep to open your airway. For the vast majority of patients, the oral appliances are far more comfortable than CPAP therapy. In fact, experience shows that 83% of patients who try oral appliance therapy sleep comfortably for an average of almost 7 hours per night.

    CPAP machines offer continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) through a mask. Although this treatment helps many people, some cannot tolerate this method and may benefit from oral devices.

    Many people benefit from combination therapy; the use of an oral appliance and the CPAP machine.

    Seeking Treatment

    We recommend you seek treatment from an American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine Diplomate. Diagnosing sleep apnea currently involves a physician prescribed sleep test. These tests can be performed at home or at a sleep lab.  For more information on sleep apnea and resources, you can visit American Alliance for Healthy Sleep, 2510 North Frontage Road
    Darien, IL 60561 or National Sleep Foundation, 1367 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036