Sleep for Health


Sleepsleep

Getting a good night’s sleep makes your work day (or school day) go so much better. If you have difficulty sleeping, you already know how tough staying alert during the day can be. But did you know that sleep is also important for your health? People who have chronic sleep loss are also at a higher risk of being obese, having heart disease, diabetes and kids with ADHD often have sleep disorders.

If you don’t get enough sleep at night, you might rely on caffeine to keep you awake during the day. Caffeine is a popular stimulant, found in tea, chocolate, some types of soda, energy drinks and in coffee. Enjoying a cup or two of coffee in the morning is fine, but you’re drinking a whole pot of coffee, it might be time to cut back. Especially if you’re drinking a lot of that coffee in the afternoon. Too much caffeine makes you jittery and if you consume it later in the day, the caffeine makes it more difficult to sleep at night. It can become a vicious circle. You use caffeine to perk up, but then you can’t sleep, so the next day you use more caffeine and lose sleep again that night. And so it goes.

Quitting the caffeine habit isn’t easy or comfortable. Many people suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness, flu-like feelings, irritability and lack of concentration when they give up caffeine cold turkey. You can avoid those symptoms by gradually withdrawing. Try blending decaffeinated coffee with regular coffee. Increase the amount of decaf over a few weeks time.

The relationship between your diet and good sleep doesn’t end with caffeine. There are several other ways to choose foods to sleep better.

Avoid heavy foods or spicy foods. Or any foods you know that may cause heartburn, making it difficult for you to sleep at night.

Don’t drink too much alcohol. Although alcohol may make you drowsie, over-consumption of your favorite adult beverages may cause a very restless uncomfortable night.

Eat cherries. Not only are they rich in vitamins, cherries contain melatonin, a substance also found in the human body that helps regulate sleep. Eating fresh or dried cherries before you go to bed at night may help you sleep better.

Enjoy a light bedtime snack. Choose carbohydrates and dairy products, like a small bowl of whole grain cereal and non-fat milk. Carbohydrates make it easier to fall sleep. Dairy products contain tryptophan, which promotes sleep. Other foods that contain tryptophan are bananas, oats, and honey.

Avoid eating excessive fats. People who eat large amounts of fat may also have more difficulty sleeping. Be sure to get enough omega-3 fatty acids each day, however, because eicosapentaenoic acid (one type of omega-3 found in fish, especially tuna, salmon and trout) has a role in sleep induction in your brain.

People who don’t get enough sleep tend to overeat by adding extra sugary and carbohydrate-rich snacks to their diets. All the extra calories from the snacking can lead to obesity, so not only do the foods you eat affect how you sleep, but the amount of sleep you get also affects the foods you choose to eat.

Sources:

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Shi Z, McEvoy M, Luu J, Attia J. “Dietary fat and sleep duration in Chinese men and women.” Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Dec;32(12):1835-40. Epub 2008 Nov 4.

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Kasza K, Schoeller DA, Penev PD.”Sleep curtailment is accompanied by increased intake of calories from snacks.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):126-33. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Afaghi A, O’Connor H, Chow CM.”High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Feb;85(2):426-30.

Burkhardt S, Tan DX, Manchester LC, Hardeland R, Reiter RJ.”Detection and quantification of the antioxidant melatonin in Montmorency and Balaton tart cherries (Prunus cerasus).” J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Oct;49(10):4898-902.

Gruber R, Xi T, Frenette S, Robert M, Vannasinh P, Carrier J. “Sleep disturbances in prepubertal children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a home polysomnography study.” Sleep. 2009 Mar 1;32(3):343-50.

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