Sleep is so important to our health; here are some reasons to get enough sleep:
- Weight: Sleep deprivation can cause weight gain by changing how our body processes and stores carbohydrates and there is an association with chronic sleep deprivation and weight gain. It can also change hormone levels to increase our appetite.
- Mood: when tired we are more prone to anxiety, depression, and irritability.
- Heart Health: Serious sleep problems have been linked to high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.
- Immune Function: Sleep deprivation alters our immune function, making us more susceptible to disease.
Getting adequate sleep helps to restore the body and new cells are generated.
It is important to listen to our body when it comes to figuring out how much sleep we need. Some people feel refreshed after 7 hours, others need 8 or 9.
Tips to get a good night’s sleep include:
- Getting to bed at a regular time, keeping your room dark, doing some breathing exercises or meditation before bed to get your body into a relaxation state, and getting regular exercise.
- Don’t have coffee after lunch since caffeine can sabotage sleep.
- Avoid high-fat food in the evening; it can make it harder to sleep well.
- Sleep on your side to breathe easier and reduce snoring.
The nervous system is a pretty amazing thing as it keeps us functioning, both physically and mentally, it will keep us awake when wakefulness is appropriate, and then let us sleep when restoration work is required.
When the appropriate restoration doesn’t take place due to a lack of sleep, the results are not very pleasant. We will obviously feel tired, hungrier and we’ll be more sensitive to pain. So, it’s of great importance to get a decent amount of sleep.
Improve your sleeping habits with these suggestions:
- Try to wind down at least half an hour before bed – have a warm bath, read a book or have a calming herbal tea.
- When you are in bed, ensure you aren’t winding your mind up with technology, switch off WI-FI, TV plugs and put your phone on air mode.
- Eat earlier – eating just before bed can cause discomfort.
- Don’t be distracted – if you live in a noisy area, try ear plugs or soothing white noise. If you have a problem with light, try a blackout blind or an eye mask. Often though, sleep problems are caused by stress and anxiety. Whether it’s a specific issue, such as work commitments, moving house, exams or a longer period of stress, it can all have an adverse effect on sleep. If you’re under a little more stress than usual or experiencing mild anxiety, perhaps try a natural herbal remedy such as passiflora or avena sativa, chamomile or valerian tea.
Factors that affect our stages of sleep cycle include regularity of eating, food choices, production of tryptophan and melatonin, and exposure to electromagnetic frequencies.
If your child grazes throughout the day, going for a full 10-12 hours without food at night will be a challenge for her body. Fat burns long and slow throughout the night, in contrast to sugar and carbohydrate, which burn quickly.
So, if her snacks are mostly sugar or carbohydrate-based, this will result in short bursts of wakeful energy.
General tips that may improve her sleeping pattern within seven to 10 days are:
- Eat three meals a day with no snacks.
- Avoid processed foods, such as rice cakes, bread sticks, cakes, ready-meals, sweets, teacakes, croissants etc.
- Eat fruits whole and avoid fruit juice.
- Increase intake of non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans, cucumber, spinach, avocado, peppers, courgettes, squashes.
- Try to increase water intake.
- Try to increase protein intake throughout the day to sustain blood sugar (can be vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources).
- If desperate for a snack at night, opt for protein and fat, such as seed or nut butters with peppers or cucumber.
- Eat organic produce to avoid ‘pesticide-overload’.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is needed for the production of melatonin, which regulates sleep pattern. The body cannot produce tryptophan so it is essential it is obtained through food. It is highest in organ meats and seafood, but other useful sources are eggs, turkey, spirulina, spinach, tofu and sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. These types of foods will also help to raise serotonin levels, which create a happy child.
The other thing needed to produce melatonin is a completely dark room, a signal for the pineal gland to release melatonin into the blood.
Exposure to electromagnetic fields can also deplete melatonin.
Remove any plugged-in electrical device as it will generate EMFs (electromagnetic fields).
Look at what’s behind your child’s wall, parallel to it, or underneath as Wi-Fi or cables may be interfering with her brain waves.