I was delighted to be invited into KFM Radio’s station today to discuss the importance of sleep and how it is often overlooked.
Most people are aware of changes they need to make to their exercise routine or diet but few look to the importance of sleep, despite the fact it is fundamental to our health.
Without sufficient sleep we are more likely to gain weight, we are more susceptible to illnesses and our energy, mood, memory and concentration are all compromised because we are failing to get sufficient rest. While some of us may survive with less sleep than others, adults are still recommended to get between 7 & 9 hours. Yet so many of us fail to get that on a regular basis and studies have shown missing even a few hours a night on a regular basis can decrease the number of “natural killer cells” responsible for warding off bacteria and viruses.
Apart from the damage it is doing to our immune system, we are less likely to make healthy choices when we are hungry and will reach for the quick fix, energy hits such as tea / coffee, sugar, processed carbs and treats. Not only will this extra volume of food cause us to gain weight but our body experiences a spike in cortisol – a fat storing hormone – which further adds to our weight gain.
Unfortunately, it’s a catch 22 situation, if we don’t eat properly during the day, we have a less chance of sleeping well at nighttime. If we don’t sleep well or get enough sleep, we have a higher chance of eating poorly during the day.
What to Do:
Eating a good varied diet full of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, oats, lentils, quinoa, eggs, fish, poultry, meat, nuts and seeds will ensure we are not just getting adequate nutrients for optimum health and balancing our blood sugars, but these foods also contain hormones such as serotonin, melatonin and amino acid tryptophan all essential for good quality sleep.
Tryptophan – an amino acid – is found in oats, beans, lentils, eggs, turkey, fish, nuts & seeds
Balancing blood sugars during the day
Eating unhealthily during the day, relying on stimulants such as coffee and sugar, causes our blood sugars to peak and crash too often during the day. 11am breaks, mid afternoon crash looking for a stimulant, evening snacking, can all be due to us trying to restore our unbalanced blood sugars. Unfortunately then at night time, the rollercoaster continues resulting in poor sleep.
What To Avoid:
- Caffeine and sugar are the obvious ones
- Late night meals (2-3 hours before bed)
- Technology – TV, phone & tablets. Turn them off for at least 45 minutes before going to sleep
Stress and anxiety:
- Keep a notepad beside your bed
- Magnesium is the body’s natural tranquiliser – foods such as spinach, nuts & seeds, yogurt, avocados, dark chocolate, bananas are all a good source. As stress hormones further depletes stores of magnesium, it is important we deal with the stress in our lives while getting adequate levels of this essential mineral.
Herbs such as chamomile and lavender are great for sleep, either put some lavender on your pillow or in your bath or have a herbal tea containing one or both
*please use caution using herbs if you are pregnant *
Listen to my interview with Ciara Plunkett here (click to the left of the timer to play – for some reason it’s not showing)
If this sounds too much like you and you would like to transform your health, give me a call and book a consultation.