Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sleep And Your Health

Sleep affects how we look, feel and perform on a daily basis, and can have a major impact on our overall health and quality of life.

Do You Get Your Sleep ?

When you sleep, your body rests and restores its energy levels, and repairs any damage caused by the day’s events. If you are looking to build muscle this is when it happens, not in the gym. About 45 minutes after you fall asleep your body’s natural growth hormone levels rise.

This is when your body repairs and builds your muscles from your workout, without proper sleep all your hard work in the gym can go down the drain.

Sleep is an active state that affects both your physical and mental well-being. A good night's sleep is often the best way to help you cope with stress, solve problems, or recover from illness

Sleep helps us by contributing to a healthy immune system, and can also balance our appetites by helping to regulate levels of the hormones leptin and ghrelin. They play a role in our feelings of hunger and fullness

When you are sleep deprived, you may also feel the need to eat more, which can lead to weight gain.

But how much sleep do you need?

Though 8 hours is the standard requirement but it’s not for everyone. One simple way to tell if you are getting enough sleep, when you wake up if you feel refreshed then you've gotten enough.

The average can actually range between 6 to 10 hours depending on the person.

Symptoms of not enough sleep:

Some of the first signs are irritability, moodiness, apathy, slowed speech, impaired memory, and an inability to multitask from a lack of sleep.

A person can develop poor sleep habits like eating too much before bedtime, or watching TV in bed. Also irregular sleep patterns can disrupt how you sleep at night, taking long naps during the day, over sleeping to compensate for lost sleep at night.

Drinking alcohol or beverages containing caffeine in the evening, exercising to close to bedtime, following an irregular morning and nighttime schedule, and working or doing other mentally intense activities right before or after getting into bed can disrupt sleep.

Traveling also disrupts sleep, especially jet lag and traveling across several time zones.

What happens when you sleep?

There are two basic stages of sleep the first is non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). Over a typical night, adults spend about 20 per cent of the time in REM sleep and 80 per cent of the time in non-REM sleep.

Rem sleep usually occurs about 70 to 90 minutes after we fall asleep, on average a person can go through 5 cycles of REM sleep each night. Starting out about 20 minutes long , and ending around 60 minutes long.

Every one dreams, but if you are not awaken in your REM stage you tend to forget your dreams. It’s very common for people to wake up after each cycle of REM sleep only to roll over and go right back to sleep and have no memory of it.

During deep NREM sleep your body repairs and regenerates tissues, builds bone and muscle.

What Is Sleep Deprivation?

Your body becomes accustom to the amount of sleep it needs ever night, if you stay up late one night, or you get up early for something your body is now in a deficit. This is why we feel so bad if we stay out late just one night and we are used to being in bed by a certain time.

If you compound this for a few days you need to make up for all that lost sleep, or you will end up feeling tired and with no energy.The best thing to do at this point is get some extra sleep to let your body catch up to the deficit.

Melatonin And Sleep:

Melatonin is a powerful hormone secreted by the pineal gland located in the brain. Its secretion is stimulated by the dark and inhibited by light, and it aids the sleep-wake cycle.

Melatonin tells us when to fall asleep and helps us remain asleep. When we age you make dramatically less melatonin, Older people often complain of insomnia, particularly difficulty in staying asleep.

There are two kinds of melatonin available, synthetic or natural. It is recommended to take the synthetic time-release formula. It is found to work best when taken between twenty to forty minutes before bedtime.

Besides helping you sleep at night, melatonin plays other roles in your body. It is an antioxidant that is linked to lower incidence of cancer and has been shown to boost immunity as much as vitamin C.

The pineal gland needs darkness to produce the melatonin naturally, this tells your body it's time to sleep. Any light you receive at night can confuse your pineal gland and decrease your body's production of melatonin.

To naturally stimulate your body's production of melatonin, you need to maximize your exposure to natural sunlight during the day and maximize the darkness in your room at night.

If insomnia occurs at least three nights a week for a month, it is considered chronic. If you don’t correct the problem it can be life altering.

Most cases of chronic insomnia can be traced to a medical condition, a lifestyle habit, or a psychological preoccupation.

Foods that will make you sleepy:

Meals heavy in complex carbohydrates will indeed cause an insulin effect and trigger sleepiness a short while later. So eat a balanced meal, more fresh or steamed vegetables, lean proteins.

Things That Can Cause You To Have Sleep Problems:

Problem - Is your bedroom too hot, noisy, any outside noise that bothers you?

Solution – Use a window air conditioner to make only your bedroom colder, this also provides ambient background noise to help drown out outside noise.

Problem - Is your bedroom brightly lit? From windows or a device like a clock?

Solution – Tint out windows or put heavy curtains over windows, put a small towel over face of clock.

Problem - Your bed may be uncomfortable? It is recommended that you replace you mattress every 5 to 7 years. This all depends on the use it gets and the quality of it.

Solution – Flip mattress see if it helps, or try sleeping on your couch. If you sleep great on the couch, replace bed.

Problems – Tossing and turning? You pillows can effect you sleep, they can build up dust, dead skin, dust mites.

Solution - You should wash them at least every 6 months. Replace them between 1 and 3 years depending on the quality.

Problem – Breathing problems when sleeping.

Solution – Wash linen see if this helps? Linen should be washed at least once a week, or more if necessary.

Problem – Who sleeps with you? Your partner, or pet can disrupt your sleep.

Solution - You might need a larger bed, or better quality bed. My dog sleeps in my bed and when he is dreaming his feet are moving and he kicks me. I finally had to evict him LOL.

Problem – Your partner snores? Or has sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a condition in which the individual stops breathing during sleep.

Solution –Try nasal strips, they are great for opening up the nasal passage. Elevate the head about 6 inches; use pillows to create a slight increase from the middle of the body to the head.

Problem – Your diet?

Solution - Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use, don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night, avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep.

Problem – Your sleep times vary each day.

Solution - Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule, same time to bed, same time to rise.

Problem – Not sleepy.

Solution – Turn off lights half hour before bedtime, and computer at least hour before bedtime. Don’t watch anything on TV that gets you thinking or excited, I find comedy works best for me.

Problem – Your body needs a reason to sleep.

Solution – Get regular exercise, exercise makes you sleep better because your your brain tells your body it needs to repair itself.

Problem – You go to the bathroom at night to pee, or get up for a drink?

Solution – Don’t drink anything an hour before bedtime. If you get up in the middle of the night, keep the lights dim to avoid the bright light from disrupting your sleep.

Do You Have Something That Works For You ?

Want To Know More? see - You Are What You Eat

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