Eat and sleep

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For thousands of years, Asians have been using traditional remedies to get that extra bit of sleep needed when things get stressful.

Herbalist Dinh Cong Bay in Ho Chi Minh City says there's no need to use western medicine to treat sleeplessness, fatigue or insomnia.

But he says it is important to do something if you can't sleep right, as loss of sleep can cause nervous breakdowns, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stress and even cancer.

If it takes a long time to get to sleep at night, or if you can't sleep at night but are then tired during the day, or if you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, Bay says you should try some of these old remedies. He says that anyone who gets three hours or less of sleep per night needs treatment.

According to the Ministry of Health's Suc Khoe va Doi Song (Health and Life) website, ht sen (lotus seed), nhãn nhc (dried seeded longan), táo Ä‘ (red jujubes), nấm Ä‘ông cô (shiitake mushroom) and rau cn tây (celery) are helpful:

- Ht sen (lotus seed), which contains starch, sugar, protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus and iron, are a precious tonic for the kidneys, spleen and brain. They can help people with depression, poor memory, insomnia and dysentery.

- Nhãn nhc (dried seeded longan), which is sweet, is good for the heart, spleen, blood and kidneys, and it can treat anemia, insomnia, digestive problems and depression. But be sure you eat ripe longans as premature ones can generate mucus.

- Nm Ä‘ông cô (shitake mushroom) helps fight cancer, strengthens the immune system's resistance to disease, and decreases cholesterol in the body.

Bay also says these ingredients can be made into delicious meals to help you sleep:

+ Add 30g of dried lotus seeds and 15 dried red jujubes to 20g of dried longans to cook a sweet soup or sweetened porridge. Eat every day for better sleep and a healthy heart.

+ For a sleep-inducing beverage, boil 10 red jujubes, five dried longans and 15g of bông cúc trng (white chrysanthemums) in 300ml of water. Let the ingredients steep for 30 minutes and drink the tea. This is good for work-oriented stress, and it helps relax both the mind and body for a good night's sleep.

+ Cut 100g of celery into small pieces. Soak 20g of shiitake in a bowl of hot water and ginger for 20 minutes. Then slice the mushrooms and ginger into small pieces. Slice 100g of lean meat of pork and beat some garlic. Deseed and wash 20 red jujubes and boil them with the lean meat in 500ml of water until the pork is well done. Add celery, mushrooms and garlic and stir them until the soup is boiled. Season the soup with salt and sugar. Enjoy the dish hot.

+ For sweet soup, steep 20 red jujubes, 100g of peanuts and 200g of small red beans in a big bowl of water overnight to soften them up. Drain the ingredients and then put all them in a pot and cover them with water. Steam the concoction until the ingredients are overdone. Season them with sugar and enjoy the sweet soup hot in the evening to sleep better.

+ For tea with celery and red jujube, cut 150g of celery into small pieces, and deseed six red jujubes. Put the celery, jujubes and 3g of tea in a pot, pour one liter of water in the pot. Simmer them until the water is still 750ml. Drink the beverage instead of tea for a good sleep. The medicinal water is also good for those with high blood pressure.

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