According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sleep deprivation is a serious public health issue, and one in three adults don't get enough sleep. Our ancestors did not have this issue, but the world has changed. Unnatural light sources affect our natural biorhythms. Processed foods and caffeine can alter energy levels. The need to connect to social media, play online games, and other computer or phone-related activities can keep you in a state of perpetual excitement. It's time to identify these and other sleep-altering factors and explore solutions to get your sleep cycle back on track.
Why you need sleep: Sleep is as crucial to your well-being as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and low stress levels. When you're asleep, your body goes into a "repair and restore" mode. Without enough sleep, your ability to heal and regenerate is significantly impaired. A poor sleep environment can lead to sleep deprivation which, aside from drowsiness, can contribute to heart disease, anxiety, depression, weight gain, obesity, diabetes, increased alcohol use, and accidental injuries.
The importance of sleep for mental health: Sleep is essential for your brain and mental wellness. Danish researcher Dr. Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester discovered the brain's detoxification center. She named it the glymphatic system because it clears waste from the brain the way the lymphatic system clears waste from the body. Nedergaard and her team found that the glymphatic system is most active during sleep. The team also found that this system functions best during natural sleep, not under the influence of sleeping medications. So while a sleeping pill may put you to sleep, you will not experience the same benefits as if you fell asleep naturally.
What is Insomnia?
If you regularly have difficulty falling or staying asleep, you may have a common sleep disorder known as insomnia. Many people with this condition feel like they never sleep at all. There are two main types of insomnia: secondary and primary. Although primary insomnia has no external cause and its origin is difficult to determine, secondary insomnia is caused by health issues such as asthma or an overactive thyroid.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea, or the more common variation called obstructive sleep apnea, is a condition that causes you to stop breathing or maintain shallow breathing while you sleep. A narrow neck, large tongue, or large tonsils are some causes of this condition. Sleeping on your back can also contribute to or exacerbate the inability to breathe properly. Snoring and snorting are typical symptoms of this condition.
Snoring, however, is not always a sign of sleep apnea. People with this condition can stop breathing for as little as 30 seconds, or as long as a few minutes. These stop-and-start breathing patterns disrupt a good night's sleep and cause drowsiness during the day. Sleep apnea is linked to health conditions, including cardiovascular issues. Sometimes, your brain won't send signals to your throat muscles. This can keep you from temporarily breathing, and is referred to as central sleep apnea. If you wake up repeatedly during the night, experience constant drowsiness during the day, or your partner complains of your snoring or snorting during sleep, it may be time to see your healthcare practitioner.
What foods should I eat to support a good night's sleep?
There aren't many things that influence your health as much as the food you eat. Dietary choices not only affect your overall health, but they also affect your ability to get restful sleep. When it comes to choosing the best food for promoting restful sleep, there are a few things to remember. Eat foods that encourage healthier blood sugar levels and foods that support a healthy gut, and avoid foods that keep you from sleeping.
Foods that support healthy blood sugar: Having balanced blood sugar is one of several things that set you up for a good night's sleep. There are a few steps you can take to encourage normal blood sugar levels -
* Avoid foods that contain refined sugar
* Embrace fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir
* Eat plenty of healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil
* Consume complex carbohydrates like quinoa, sweet potatoes, squash, and amaranth
It's also important to consider your meal frequency. Some people who experience blood sugar crashes sleep better when they eat several small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. Finally, if you find yourself frequently waking up at night, a small, protein-rich, plant-based snack before bed can help you avoid late night blood sugar crashes.
Foods that support a healthy gut: Though we typically don't associate sleeplessness with gut health, they are very much connected. Your gut contains chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters that shuttle information between your cells. Among the most important of these neurotransmitters is serotonin. Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin, which is the master sleep hormone. Foods that support a healthy gut include -
* Cultured, probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut
* Prebiotic-rich foods such as leeks, onions, bananas, chicory, garlic, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, and whole, gluten-free grains
* Fresh, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables for a healthy colon
* Healthy fats, like coconut oil to support normal microbial balance
What are the safest natural sleep remedies?
Simply closing your eyes and going to sleep naturally is the best way to fall asleep. This method doesn't always work, however, and you may need supplemental help or a change in your sleep environment. The following are natural approaches to encourage restful sleep.
Supplements: Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are important to many aspects of your health, including your sleep quality. Essential oils that provide these nutrients help encourage relaxation. Before reaching for a sleeping pill, try essential oils.
* Passionflower promotes relaxation and improves sleep quality.
* Chamomile, lavender, and ylang-ylang support relaxation and sleep.
* Valerian quickens the time it takes to fall asleep and improves overall sleep quality.
* Magnesium is called "the relaxation mineral" because it encourages a good night's rest and improves sleep quality.
* Melatonin helps reset your circadian rhythm.
* Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha and maca help your body adapt to stress.
The writer is a professional researcher and nutritionist. The write-up has appeared on www.globalhealingcenter.com
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