Although you might not think so, sleep is integral to overall health. Drowsily yawning, dozing, snoozing and nanna-napping are indications that you might be a bit sleep deprived. When my niece and nephew are visiting and get put to bed at 8pm, all they want to do is stay up... My response? Ok, you guys stay up and I'll go to bed. Gone are the days of wanting to fight sleep. Well, for some of us anyway.
Adults are recommended to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Children require even more, you know, because they're growing and stuff. Poor sleep is associated with several health complications including high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, poor immune function and... wait for it: Obesity. This is a nutrition blog after all. So to all those pulling all-nighters and slinging the expression "I'll sleep when I'm dead", you might be there sooner than you think.
Sleep is important for so many aspects of our ability to function in life: Storing memories, clearing toxins from our brains, hormone and appetite regulation, cognition, decision making, reflexes and more. You might think sleep is for the weak, but in the end, those who sleep aren't weak of mind.
Research shows sleep deprived people consume more calories, exercise less and, as a result, are more likely to be overweight or obese. On the flip-side, there's research showing that losing weight helps you sleep better. A new study found that participants who lost 5% of their body weight had better sleep quality and increased their sleep time by almost 22 minutes. Maybe we should update the phrase "work hard and play hard" to "work hard, play hard and sleep harder".
So what do you do to prevent... or rather, induce world war zzzzz?
- Avoid large meals close to bed time
- Avoid late night alcohol and caffeine (yep, Captain Obvious at your service)
- Unplug from your phone (computer, tv and other devices)
- Yes, research shows these interfere with circadian rhythms
- Foods like grains, bananas and chickpeas contain potassium and vitamin B6, which are needed to make melatonin, a hormone related to sleep
- Relax with caffeine-free tea, a bath or some yoga
- Don't go to bed hungry
Avoid being the unlikable Hulk, get your beauty sleep and sleep like you're dead to avoid becoming dead.