Why is sleep important for health? Food and lifestyle tips for a good night sleep and staying healthy.

 

We can choose to change our drinking, eating,activity and sex but breathing oxygen and sleep is a necessity.

Short sleep has been independently associated with weight gain( Patel and Hu 2008). Sleep restricted by 2 hours increases snacking by 25% ( Nedeltcheva et al 2009)

lack of sleep causes Leptin levels to decrease and Ghrelin to increase increasing our appetite and insulin resistance( Spiegel et al 2004 and 2005). We may choose less healthy food when we have more time to eat

 

Having regular balanced meals with adequate protein, slow release energy food,the amount we eat, timing of meals not eating late at night to avoid indigestion all seem to play apart in our food affecting sleep.

While you sleep you may think your brain and body is shut down but what actually is happening is the secretion of hormones such as melatonin increase and activity of the pathway linked to learning and memory increases.

Getting less sleep can affect your ability to think and respond quickly and can affect your heart health, energy balance and your body's ability to fight infections. Especially if there is ongoing less sleep which can affect your health and quality of life

Older people need same amount as an adult but their sleep can be affected by their medical conditions.

Good quality of sleep for a duration of 8-9 hours is important. Trying to create a pattern of corrected sleep on the days you can sleep more will not necessarily help your health. Naps limited to 20 minutes, however can help but best done before 3 pm otherwise you will have trouble going to bed at night. Snoring as we get older can be common, however it has been shown to increase risk of diabetes and heart disease. Loud frequent snoring can be a sign of sleep apnoea so its best to see your doctor/GP

Children who lack sleep at night have been shown to : become hyperactive,irritable, have poor attention span,increased risk to injury and behaviour problems

 

Causes of sleep problems

 

  • Worry and stress can cause insomnia or sleep problems, 

  • medications- heart , blood pressure,asthma medication, some herbal remedies

  • sleep disorders

  • depression

  • anxiety

  • asthma

  • arhtritis

  • other medical conditions troublesome at night

  • Drinking caffeinated drinks e g coffee,tea,cola

  • Having large amounts of chocolate

  • Eating high fat and high sugar junk and processed food

  • Alcohol

  • Smoking

Here are your 10 tips to get a good night sleep and stay healthy

 

  1. Stick to sleep schedule

  2. Take up regular activity- 30 minutes per day but not later than 2-3 hours before bedtime

  3. Avoid caffeine stimulants whose affects can take as long as 8 hours

  4. Nicotine is a stimulant so try to give up smoking. Smokers have been known to get a early morning withdrawals so are unable to get a good night sleep

  5. Alcohol may help you relax but can rob you of deep sleep during second half of the night ,you may wake up in the night when the affects of alcohol have worn off.

  6. Avoid large meals and beverages at night. A light healthy snack is o k but large meals can cause indigestion , drinking before bed can wake you up at night to go to toilet. Reduce your intake of high sugar , high fat junk and processed food. Limit your intake of chocolate to special occasions.

  7. Review your medication if they are disrupting your sleep with your doctor

  8. Avoid late afternoon naps

  9. A relaxing activity before bed can help you unwind e.g reading, listening to music, hot bath before bed.If you can't sleep getup and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy

  10. Improve your sleep environment- less noise,dim lights,comfortable bed, cool temperature, no screen. Getting some natural sunlight during the day for 30 minutes during the waking time helps

Reference: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf

National heart,lung and blood institute- U.S department of health and human services.

American academy of sleep medicine

For specialised Diet and Nutrition advice seek the advice of a Professional Dietitian and Nutritionist Tabby Kabeer 

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