Sleep is a basic human function and our bodies require it everyday in order to maintain our health and wellbeing. Sleep is so vital and a lack of it can lead to serious long term health problems.
The risks for heart disease and type 2 diabetes are also high, and there’s a growing body of evidence showing that poor sleep patterns are directly linked to overweight and obesity. When there is a low level of serotonin it can cause the body to crave carbohydrates. This in turn make you more likely to eat more sugary foods and refined carbohydrates because these foods increase levels of serotonin.
Lack of sleep has also been shown to increase levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, that stimulates appetite and makes us feel hungry, and it decreases levels of the satiety hormone leptin, which gives us that satisfied feeling after eating that prompts us to stop eating. Furthermore being tired in itself can also lead to overeating because sometimes we eat in the belief that we need food to give us the energy we lack.
On average we need around 7-8 hours sleep per night though this can vary from person to person. Children tend to require more- on average between 11-13 hours per day.
Here's 4 practical steps you can take to help you get a good nights rest.
1. Your sleeping environment
Ensure your room is at a comfortable temperature. Tip-keep your room cool, however, keep your hands and feet warm. A comfortable mattress is key to getting a good nights sleep. You may want to consider in investing in one if you haven't already. It will be worth it!
2. Switch Off!
Don't bring your office back home and that includes working on your laptop in bed, or even going through emails on your smart phone. It's easier said than done, trust me I know and often guilty as charged; however, if your ever going to get a decent nights sleep learn to switch off. Literally! Try turning off your phone or (if you're not brave enough) turn off your notifications, particularly for your emails.
Eating a varied diet can significantly improve sleep pattern. It is also a better option than dependence on sleeping pills-and poses no side effects.
Cherry juice has been shown in studies to help people sleep longer due to its ability to help the body produce melatonin. In a study it was found that drinking 30ml of a sour cherry juice twice a day led to an increase in circulating melatonin, providing improvements in sleep amongst healthy adults. The study used Montmorency cherry juice but if you can’t find this variety in health food stores, Acerola cherry juice is also a sour variety which may be as effective.
Some of the main benefits of exercising are : it improves heart health and blood pressure; it builds and strengthens bone and muscle; it helps combat stress; it helps improve mood; and it helps you look and feel better, it can also help you sleep. Even if you spend most of your time at work, there are simple steps you can take to get your quota of exercise; take stairs instead of the lift. Walk or cycle when you can instead of spending all your time on the bus. The British Heart Foundation recommends 30 mins of brisk walking per day.
Above all don’t be concerned about how much sleep you get, it's about how alert and rested you feel during the day and can cope (or not) with day time activities. Remember quality over quantity is just as important.
Abigail Morakinyo - CEO Health in Check
Abigail Morakinyo has also been shortlisted for the 'Mum and Working' Award and has reached the final.
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