Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
The average adult requires between 7-9 hours of sleep each night but many are not getting enough sleep and that can lead to serious health issues.
During sleep our blood pressure decreases compared to when we are awake. Some sleep disturbances such as insomnia and apnea disrupt the rhythm which may leave individuals predisposed to a higher risk for hyper-tension and some coronary heart diseases.
Our bodies produce leptins (an appetite controlling hormone) while we sleep. So we are at a greater risk of becoming overweight when we have sleep disturbances. As well, too little or too much sleep is associated with changes in how our bodies react to glucose and create a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The sleeping brain may play an important role in learning and memory. This works by your brain reinforcing the most important synapse for learning new things and pairing back the less important ones. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. First it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently. Sleep deprivation can be linked to dementia.
Sleepiness causes accidents, sleep loss is a big public safety concern on the roads daily. Drowsiness can reduce reaction times as much as drunk driving. Studies show that sleep loss can cause accidents on the job as well.
Getting a good nights shut eye can help to elevate your mood. Studies show that insomnia is linked to an increase in developing depression. Insomnia and depression feed on each other, as sleep loss often aggravates depression and depression can make it hard to fell asleep.
Now that we know what damage lack of sleep can cause, here are some ways to help get more.
Eating/drinking things like warm milk, nuts, seeds, bananas, honey, eggs and turkey can promote sleep as they contain tryptophan. Remember how tired you are after eating that big Thanksgiving meal? Carbohydrate rich foods boost tryptophan foods in your blood stream so pairing things like milk and cereal or cheese and crackers is good but do not over due the carbohydrates as they can be too heavy to digest. Do not have caffeine too late in the day, stopping around 2pm is advised as best.
Increase your light exposure during the day. Sunshine or bright light will keep your circadian rhythm in check. As well, decrease your blue light exposure at night time. This comes from electronic devices such as cell phones, lap tops and TVs. This will help to increase melatonin levels in your brain.
Try to keep to the same sleep/wake times each day. This will also help with your circadian rhythm and melatonin levels. After a few weeks of doing this, you may not even need an alarm clock.
Now stop reading this article and get to bed 😊