According to the experts, sleep keeps you young, helps prevent diabetes, makes you smarter, happier and even keeps the weight off! In fact, a good snooze is probably the cheapest, safest, most effective health and beauty booster out there…
While you’re busy snoozing, your body gets busy regenerating its skin, blood, brain cells and muscles.
According to Meir H. Kryge from the National Sleep Foundation in the US:
“Research suggests that even a modest amount of sleep deprivation can increase appetite by altering the behavior of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which are responsible for regulating metabolism. As a result of sleep loss, people may experience stronger cravings for carbohydrates and calorie-rich comfort foods such as cookies and chips, which can lead to weight gain.”
Skimping on sleep can actually make it harder to lose weight!
And that’s not all…
Sleep makes you happier.
We all know lack of sleep can make you grouchy. But taken to extremes, sleep deprivation can cause disorientation and paranoia. During the highly active stage of sleep characterized by accelerated dreaming and rapid eye movements (REM) – your subconscious analyses the day’s events and processes feelings – an essential activity for mental health.
… and brainier too
During REM sleep your brain also replenishes its supply of neurotransmitters. These boost your mood and your memory too.
A recent study by Harvard Medical School found that people who slept after learning and practicing a new task remembered more about it the following day than people who stayed up all night learning the same thing.
And if that’s not a good enough reason to hit the sack earlier tonight, recent research suggests that people who sleep less may also produce more insulin, which puts them at higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes – a disease that’s already on the rise in the UK.
So… to get all these amazing benefits, how much sleep are you supposed to have?
How long should your ‘workout’ be?
Well, the experts say between 7 to 9 hours a night. But everyone’s different, so the best measure is whether you’re exhausted or not during the day. If you are, you probably need more sleep. If you feel refreshed and alert after just 6 hours, then you’re fine as you are. This is all very well, but what if you’re someone who has trouble sleeping? Someone who’d love to pack in a couple of extra hours if only you could?
Here are 7 safe, drug-free tips that could just help you get all forty winks…
Keep your alarm clock away from your head
Watches, clocks and the like all emit electromagnetic pulses that can interfere with your body’s own electromagnetic field. Even if you don’t think you have trouble sleeping, try moving the alarm clock further away from your head at night. Perhaps try the foot of the bed, and see if it improves the quality of your sleep.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol at night
Caffeine’s an obvious one, but it needs saying. Alcohol might come as a bit of a surprise – isn’t a nightcap sedating?
But it seems it disrupts the second half of the night, either making you sleep fitfully or waking you up completely. Studies show that a moderate dose of alcohol consumed as much as six hours before bedtime can increase wakefulness during the second half of the night.
The old wives’ tale that’s true
Turns out milk’s power to help you sleep isn’t an old wives’ tale after all. Milk contains a substance called tryptophan that your body converts into the sleep-promoting hormones melatonin and serotonin. If you wake up in the early hours and sleep lightly for the rest of the night you may be serotonin deficient so try a glass of milk or other tryptophan-rich foods such as oats or bananas before bed.
Dubbed ‘Nature’s tranquiliser’, this herb sedates the nervous system and makes you drowsy. You can make a tea with one or two teaspoons of dried valerian root before bed but be warned, it tastes disgusting. If you can’t quite stomach it, try a tincture or capsules from your local health food shop.
Avoid counting sheep!
Listen to some relaxing music, take a shower. Avoid watching the news or some violent TV programme that leaves you wired. If your mind is still racing when you get to bed, don’t count sheep – that just stimulates the brain even more.
Try touching the following two acupressure points on your forehead for a couple of minutes. Here’s how to find them – place one finger on the middle of each eyebrow, then trace up the forehead, to halfway between the eyebrow and the hairline. You should feel a slight bump here, which is why these points are called the frontal eminences.
Eat magnesium-rich foods
Magnesium is a natural sedative, so try stocking up on foods rich in magnesium. These include seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, and whole grains.
I hope these tips help you catch up on some health-giving sleep.
If they don’t work, try watching a party political broadcast.
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