“If I was a bear I would enjoy my sleep in hibernation and was I an owl, then my insomnia in night’s wakefulness.” A lot of us must have compared their sleep patterns or insomnia levels with these animals. Unfortunately, we humans can’t choose to be either.
The lack of sleep or overdose of it affects our bodies negatively. In today’s stressful living we have more people complaining of insomnia than ever before, age being no bar. Insomnia is known to raise cortisol levels, disrupt cholesterol and insulin balance, cause disturbance to digestive processes causing acidity and impact neurological responses. With stress levels already high, lack of sleep only further elevates problems. So what can we do to make things easier?
These are the foods that help in a peaceful sleep and reduce stress.
1. Banana : It has potassium and magnesium, which are both muscle relaxants. Also contains tryptophan which gets converted into serotonin and melatonin which induces sleep.
2. Pineapple: It can reduce muscular skeletal pains as it contains bromelain, known to relieve muscle aches. It also reduces inflammation and muscular fatigue.
3. Honey and toast : Honey has potassium and the carbs in toast, both help in release of protein tryptophan which helps in serotonin (feel good hormone) being produced.
4. Yogurt : Fresh yogurt is known to relieve acidity. Sprinkled with seasons berries be in strawberry, raspberry and even cherries are known to accelerate melatonin production, ideal for a good night’s sleep.
5. Warm water with ginger, honey and Turmeric: All of these reduce inflammation and fatigue, which in turn can induce a restful feeling throughout the body
6. Oats: Carbs but without excess calories. A small bowl can promote satiety, reduce acid reflux, help in tryptophan production and thereby induce sleep.
Apart from this, we have to follow the basic guidelines of having a peaceful, calm atmosphere, cool temperatures, low lights and no access to devices such as phones and computers at least half an hour before we hit the bed. It helps if we know we have a problem and take the necessary steps to relieve it rather than challenge its workability.
The overdose of sleep however is another pattern in itself which affects productivity. This is usually caused by prolonged REM sleep cycle wherein deep sleep is not reached and the person ends up feeling fatigued even after a complete nights rest. During this phase (REM) the oxygen usage of the brain is higher than even the state of wakefulness working on a complex problem. The individual therefore might have slept more than 12 hours but would still not feel rested or ready for activity. Though this is usually a genetic problem, it may be altered by addressing more routine activities such as regulated eating and physical activity. Sometimes sleeping more can be the first signs of depression or mental illness, wherein the person loses the incentive to face each day. If that’s the case it is essential to consult a doctor immediately. However, if it is sheer laziness, then an activity to stimulate the brain cells is necessary. A small piece of dark chocolate/ a cup of tea/coffee might do the trick.
So weigh your sleep with your physical activity for proper muscle repair and then stimulate your brain for wakefulness. Don’t be a bear or an owl. A 7 / 8 hour sleep cycle is a good balance to maintain for an optimum lifestyle.
Read The Times of India article – click here