Archive for the ‘Sleep and Diet’ Category
Love is in the air! February is the month for Cupid’s arrow to fly and Valentine’s Day is the culmination if it all. As shy lovers seek their first kiss and time-tested twosomes renew their promises, gifts are often exchanged to seal the deal.
Traditional gifts of chocolate, wine and roses have been the go-to standards for years. Sought after and savored, they have lingered in lovers’ dreams throughout the ages. But did you know these sweet gifts may actually be stealing your sweetheart’s slumber? Chocolate, wine and roses may just be the perfect recipe for insomnia.
Chocolate – sweet, silky, melty bliss! (Can you tell I’m a fan?) I cling to the research that points up the high antioxidant qualities of the stuff. Its benefits include lower blood pressure and cholesterol and higher serotonin levels. Chocolate has been shown to increase blood flow to the heart and brain and even has cancer fighting credits. But chocolate also contains theobromine and caffeine, known stimulants and sleep stealers. For those who are sensitive or tend to overindulge, it may be best to skip the chocolate dessert at Valentine’s dinner.
Wine – heady, complex, mysterious, marvelous nectar! (Yep… a fan.) What romantic movie scene does not begin with the pop of a cork or the end with the last savory swallow of a beautiful Bordeaux? Though wine and its alcoholic cousins may lead us to feel heavy lidded and seem to whisk us more easily to sleep, the initial daze gives way to broken sleep later in the night. Deep slow wave sleep is replaced by lighter sleep stages. As the liver breaks down the ETOH (alcohol) to other chemicals that can be safely eliminated from the body, one of the resulting metabolites has stimulating properties almost as strong as espresso! Waking between 1 and 3 a.m. with difficulty getting back to sleep is often associated with drinking alcohol in the evening.
Ah, Roses! The sweet and pungent fragrance of deep, red velvet fills the heads of lovers with visions of eternal ecstasy – oh yeah, and pollen… A big bouquet of you darling’s favorite posies may pose another sleeping challenge. If your honey is allergic one of the main physiologic reactions is the release of histamine. This gives us the runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. In the brain, histamine gives a strong signal for wakefulness. Allergies and peaceful sleep are not compatible bed partners.
It seems our favorite perennial presents may not be the stuff of dreams after all. They may, in fact, be keeping our sweetie-pies from the sound sleep they so desperately desire. So next year when Cupid draws back his bow and you are struck with the desire to shower your beloved with tokens of your affection, you may want to skip the chocolate, wine and roses. Perhaps a nice card will do. Oh! And diamonds! No one I know has ever lost any sleep over diamonds!
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep!
These days life comes at us fast. Our daily tasks are listed and leering at us from our computers and date books. Even our phones chirp and chime at us throughout the day to let us know when it’s time to do this or that. Many of us are so busy we rarely accomplish everything on the list; we just keep moving from one meeting or project or chore to the next until we can’t go on any further and then we collapse. The surprising thing is, that as exhausted as we may be, sleep is not necessarily waiting right there to catch us when we fall! In fact, overfull days can easily become overalert nights.
For sleep to be as consistent and reliable as we would like it to be we need to give it as much respect as all our other appointments and obligations. Sleep needs to be scheduled into the day from the start so that the rest of the day can be built to accommodate it. If we leave sleep as an afterthought, treat it like leftovers or make it a last choice, sleep may become as elusive as a scorned lover. Declare your feelings; let sleep know it is important to you by giving it a priority place on your schedule and keeping your promise to show up on time. Then you will find sleep becomes more available for you.
While we have that BerryPhone out, let’s pencil in some exercise. The ideal time would be mid to late afternoon, but any time is better than no time, as long as you finish at least 2 hours before bedtime. A brisk walk in the sunlight is excellent. A spin class after work, awesome. Let your body move in space as it was designed to do. Get your heart rate up a bit. Sound sleep depends on changes in our core temperature. We sleep better when our inner temperature is falling. If we never do anything to raise our temp in the first place it’s like working in a room with no windows. The natural rhythms of the day and night are lost.
3) Eat Regular Balanced Meals
Speaking of natural rhythms, our bodies take their cues about when it is time to sleep and when to be awake from several different things. Light is really important, as is exercise and temperature changes as we just discussed. Another strong cue can come from regular mealtimes. It is important to eat, i.e. fuel the machine, several times during the day. Good, unprocessed, organic food is always preferable. If you go to bed hungry you are likely to find yourself awake, standing in front of the fridge at 3 a.m. Likewise, if you eat a big heavy meal 30 minutes before lying down for the night, your bodily functions will be busy with digestion. Sleep is likely to be delayed or at least restless for a couple hours. Regular nutritious meals at thoughtful intervals through the day can help you sleep more soundly at night. There are certain foods that can assist or hinder your ability to fall asleep easily or stay awake when required, but that is for another post.
4) Make a Worry List
Here we are back at lists again! This one however is one you should do nearer the end of the day, but not too close to bedtime. Right after dinner would be a reasonable time for this exercise. The idea here is to sit down with a blank piece of paper (several if needed) and let all those nagging little thoughts that are likely to start circling in your brain after lights out and spill them out in ink. You don’t have to be neat — just get it out on paper for safekeeping overnight. You may write out tomorrow’s to-do list, or a reminder to get the tires rotated. You may jot down an idea for next week’s presentation or just a gripe about an inconsiderate neighbor. What ever comes up, put it down. Once this “brain dump” is complete you’re free to slip away to slumber without concern you’re missing something. If, out of habit, one of those petty thoughts tries to rise up after you’re down for the night you can let it go quickly, knowing you’ve covered that ground already and have it well secured on your “worry list”.
5) Invite Sleep In
After our busy day is done, after the workout is over, after the worry list is written and the dinner dishes done, there needs to be one more task to really get the most out of our coming night’s sleep. We need to wind down. There needs to be a very clear separation between our waking day and our sleeping night to reinforce the change in states we are seeking.
Remember the bedtime routine your mom set up for you when you were little, or the ones you have for your kids? Well, bedtime routines aren’t just for children. In addition to brushing our teeth, changing into our jammies and checking the closet and under the bed to be sure there are no monsters lurking, there are some grown-up things we can do.
First, an hour before “official” bedtime, turn off all your screened devices. That includes computers, video games and phones. Dim the lights and engage in a relaxing stress free activity. This may be a warm bath, a soothing cup of caffeine free tea, a good lighthearted book or soft music. Relaxing yoga poses, a foot massage or lovemaking can also ease the body toward slumber. With this obvious change in lighting, mood, thought and activity you signal your mind and body to prepare for sleep. In essence, you invite sleep in.
When it’s time, lay your head on your pillow, give thanks for your blessings, turn out the light and
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
Would you like to lose 30 pounds without going on a diet, going to the gym or having surgery? The answer may be in improving your sleep habits and patterns. This story is a about one man who did exactly that.
Please let me know in the comment section below, how sleep has effected your weight loss efforts.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep!
Lately I’ve been thinking alot about bedtime snacks. There seems to be a bit of a debate going on about whether or not it is a good idea to have “a little something” before retiring at night. There are some very smart folks on either side of the discussion and I was hoping to get a dialogue going on here so I can follow it along with you. Here is some of what I’ve seen of the question:
The Case FOR a Bedtime Snack
Michael Breus, PhD, “The Sleep Doctor”, says you should not go to bed hungry and recommends a high carbohydrate, low protein snack in the hour before bed.
More from Dr. Breus
Today Show nutritionist, Joy Bauer points out that while you should not eat a big meal too close to bedtime, a snack may be just the thing to beat chronic insomnia. The trick is to “combine foods that have some tryptophan with ample carbohydrate”.
More from Joy Bauer
Here’s another article from Discovery Health by Virgil Wooten, MD that promotes a light healthy snack before bed for more restful sleep. Again, the carbohydrates seem to be the clear favorite.
More from Dr. Wooten
The Case AGAINST a Bedtime Snack
Well known sleep apnea specialist, Steven Y. Park, MD has been very clear on the dangers of eating too close to bedtime. He puts it this way in this MedHelp Journal entry, “Three to four hours is the general recommendation to avoid eating before going to bed. The only thing you can have is water within this timeframe.”
More from Dr. Park
Mayo Clinic offers advice to avoid eating at least 2 hours before bedtime. They also specifically warn against spicy or fatty foods, especially for heartburn sufferers, as these could lead to heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux that could interfere with restful sleep.
More from Mayo Clinic
In his Daily Blog, much beloved Dr. Andrew Weil makes these comments on the subject, “It is more difficult to digest food when lying down. Our digestive tracts work best when we are upright – sitting, standing or even walking. When you lie down after a meal, gravity can disrupt proper digestion; this can lead to acid reflux, or heartburn, which can hinder sleep. Digesting food requires the body to expend energy. This can interfere with the relaxed metabolic state required for sleep.” He also says that any eating before bed should be limited to “small, healthy snacks”.
More from Dr. Weil
So where do you stand on the issue of bedtime snacks?
- Do they help us drift to sleep with the help of tryptophan producing carbohydrates?
- Do they keep our blood sugar even through the night or cause disruptive spikes and troughs?
- Should we fast for hours before sleep or is this advice only for those who have GERD?
- Can the body digest a meal and sleep at the same time? It has to, doesn’t it – since it takes several hours from end to end, as it were…
- If we eat before bedtime what should we eat and what should we avoid?
- What do you think of products like this one? Click here to learn about NightFood
Please post your comments, information, insights and ideas below. I am really interested to hear your thoughts.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
I love anything that makes a difficult problem easier to solve. Those extra pounds that keep hanging around my middle are some of those problems and I love the reminder that Vic Johnson gives us in the following article. Here he explains how getting enough sleep is really an effective weight loss strategy! I love it! Of course sleeping in an extra hour does not mean I can have a big chocolate donut for breakfast and still lose weight. Well, baby steps, I guess.
Sleep In To Boost Your Metabolism
This is one of the many paradoxes of life. Common sense would suggest that if we’re awake and active then our metabolism is working more than if we’re enjoying some good sleep.
However, as the experts tell us, getting adequate rest actually improves the metabolic process. People who are constantly running a sleep deficit usually find that they’ve got less power to do regular, daily activities, including basic needs like digestion.
As a result, sleep-deprived individuals often unknowingly lower their metabolism. Their bodies lack the ability to break down food efficiently, particularly carbohydrates, which are more likely to be stored as body fat.
This is an extremely challenging issue, because many individuals can only find time for exercise (which is also needed for good metabolism) by borrowing from their relaxation or sleep time.
For instance, in dealing with work and family commitments a person might discover that the only time they have to exercise (and thus boost their metabolism) is in the evening which might cause them to hit the sack at a later time. So what’s one to do?
As it is in many circumstances, it’s a matter of balance. Naturally, if you’re willing to exercise, and your physician agrees that it is healthy for you to do that, then you are not going to get fit by simply sleeping.
Yet with that said, should you steal time away from your sleep to be able to exercise? If you do, over time you can actually do more harm than good. As is usually the case, the answer lies in having enough balance.
Keep a time diary for at least a week to see how you’re spending your time. Don’t assume you know how every minute is spent. Most people are surprised when they review their diaries how some of their time was spent.
When you evaluate how you’re spending your time look at it in 15 minute blocks. If you can find two 15 minute blocks during the day that you can engage in some kind of activity (even a walk around the block) you will have the same equivalent health benefit as if you had engaged in a continuous 30 minute activity.
If you have ANY TV time (or recreational Internet time like Facebook, etc.) showing up in your diary then you can definitely convert that to either exercise or sleep time. Don’t fool yourself, or justify watching the idiot tube, relaxing in front of the TV has very few benefits compared to other alternatives.
Sleep deprivation also has another unintended consequence that affects our metabolism. It causes us to depend on “crutches” like caffeine to keep us awake. Used long term caffeine not only causes the release of a fat storing hormone (cortisol) but also causes us to sleep less, which gets us back to the primary subject of this article.
Should you discover that you have trouble sleeping, then this can also negatively affect the speed of your metabolic process (because you will not have enough get up and go the following day). Insomnia, apnea and other sleep disorders are typical problems, and there are numerous support systems to help you get the rest you need.
Some non-medical tips to help you fall asleep include:
- No late night eating (this is a double whammy: bad for the metabolism and can keep you awake and make you sleep fitfully)
- Have a small glass of warm milk before bedtime
- Leave the TV off when you go to bed
- Try yoga or other stress-relieving activities
- Keeping a magazine or book by the bed and reading a few pages helps some people to get sleepier.
- Have a warm bath before bedtime
- Don’t exercise or engage in anything strenuous close to bedtime. Your body can become so energized that it doesn’t want to sleep
It’s possible to get too much sleep and that can result in a slower metabolism but that’s usually not the case for most people, especially Americans who seem to want to burn the candle at both ends.
Now, relax and lay there, it’s OK to grab a few extra winks. Your metabolism will reward you for that.
(c) Copyright 2010 Visa Ventures Metabolic-Calculator.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Vic_Johnson
What you eat affects how easily you fall asleep and the quality of the sleep you get. Some foods help your brain to calm down, while others stimulate it. If you have trouble getting to sleep or sleeping well, your food intake may be unwittingly causing problems.
Foods containing an amino acid called tryptophan are known to induce sleep. Foods containing tryptophan can help make you sleepy, and sleep better through the night. Foods without this substance may disturb your sleep.
Further, eating carbohydrates alongside foods containing tryptophan works best. So, for dinner and bedtime snacks, eat something high in complex carbohydrates with a little tryptophan-containing protein to relax your brain, with some calcium too. A sugary, carbohydrate-only snack is likely to stimulate you and make it hard to sleep.
These foods contain high amounts of sleep-provoking tryptophan:
- whole grains
- hummus, sesame seeds
- dairy foods e.g. milk, cheese
- meats, poultry, eggs, seafood
- hazelnuts and peanuts
- soy foods e.g. tofu, soybean nuts
Dinners to help you sleepLighter meals are better to help you relax. Avoid high-fat meals and large servings because they make your digestive system work too hard and may keep you awake. It’s actually better to go to bed with a comfortable, not a full stomach. You may feel like you fall asleep faster, but your sleep is likely to be disrupted through the night. Try these meals to help you relax and sleep:
- pasta/macaroni and cheese
- meat or poultry with vegetables
- stir-fry tofu
- scrambled eggs and cheese
- seafood with cheesy pasta
Good bedtime snacksThese foods are high in carbohydrates and calcium, as well as containing moderate amounts of protein to induce sleep. Keep in mind that it takes about an hour to digest food, so plan to have these an hour before bed:
- whole-grain cereal and milk
- raisin and oatmeal cookies with milk
- apple pie with ice cream
- hazelnuts with tofu
- peanut butter sandwich and ground sesame seeds.
If you are not sure or skeptical, why not conduct your own experiment and try it for a week?
For many, many more options for overcoming insomnia, visit Help For Insomnia [http://www.a-good-night-sleep.com/help-for-insomnia.html] You are welcome to reprint this article on your health-related website, as long as you reprint it in full, including this resource box.