Surprising Reasons Why We Need To Sleep?

Find out how lack of sleep can raise your risk of heart disease, diabetes, mental health problems, infertility, obesity and …

Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is critical to our health, and when we don’t get enough, we sacrifice more than just a good night’s sleep.

One of the vital roles of sleep is to help us solidify and consolidate memories. As we go about our day, our brains take in an incredible amount of information. Rather than being directly logged and recorded, however, these facts and experiences first need to be processed and stored; and many of these steps happen while we sleep. Overnight, bits and pieces of information are transferred from more tentative, short-term memory to stronger, long-term memory—a process called “consolidation.”

Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Sleep requirements vary from person to person. While adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, one-year-olds need roughly 11 to 14 hours, school-age children between 9 and 11, and teenagers between 8 and 10. During these critical periods of growth and learning, younger people need a heavy dose of slumber for optimal development and alertness.

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

Sharper Brain

Good sleep allows your mind to regain focus and tackle those tricky mental challenges. It can also stimulate creativity. That’s because sleep plays a big part in both learning and memory.

Mood Boost

Another thing that your brain does while you sleep is processing your emotions. Your mind needs this time in order to recognize and react the right way. Chronic lack of sleep can also raise the chance of having a mood disorder. People who have insomnia, are five times more likely to develop depression, and odds of anxiety or panic disorders are even greater.

Healthier Heart

While you sleep, your blood pressure goes down, giving your heart and blood vessels a bit of a rest. The less sleep you get, the longer your blood pressure stays up during a 24-hour cycle. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, including stroke.

Short-term downtime can have long-term payoffs.

Boosted Energy Levels

Energy levels after healthy sleep are higher, and your mental awareness is more acute. Good sleep is also tied to improved athletic performance, including greater speed, agility and reflexes. Sleep loss will not deprive you of energy and time for muscle repair, lack of sleep saps your motivation, which is what gets you to the finish line. You’ll face a harder mental and physical challenge — and see slower reaction times.

Steadier Blood Sugar

During the deep, slow-wave part of your sleep cycle, the amount of glucose in your blood drops. Not enough time in this deepest stage means you don’t get that break to allow a reset — like leaving the volume turned up. Your body will have a harder time responding to your cells’ needs and blood sugar levels.

Fight Infection

Sleep is your body’s mechanism to ward off infection. When you don’t get enough, your immune system is weaker, making you more susceptible to illness. Ongoing lack of sleep changes the way your immune cells work. They may not attack as quickly, and you could get sick more often.

Weight Control

When you’re well-rested, you’re less hungry. Being sleep-deprived messes with the hormones in your brain — leptin and ghrelin — that control appetite.

With those out of balance, your resistance to the temptation of unhealthy foods goes way down. And when you’re tired, you’re less likely to want to get up and move your body. Together, it’s a recipe for putting on pounds.

Don’t Fall into these Sleep Traps!

#1: Getting just 1 hour less per night than you need doesn’t affect your daytime functioning.

While you may not feel noticeably sleepier during the day, even losing an hour of sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly.

#2: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on weekends.

Making up for sleep on the weekends by sleeping in and/or napping only partially erases the insufficiencies associated with not sleeping enough the previous week.

#3: Extra sleep for one night can cure all your problems with daytime fatigue.

Quality and timing of sleep are just as important as quantity when it comes to healthy rest. Some people sleep a full nine hours a night but don’t feel well-rested when they wake up because of the poor quality of sleep.

#4: You can pay back to sleep deprivation by logging into sleep debt

Unfortunately, a person can’t just accumulate sleep deprivation and then log many hours of sleep to make up for it. The best sleep habits are consistent, healthy routines that allow all of us, regardless of our age, to meet our sleep needs every night, and keep on top of life’s challenges every day.

Practising good sleep hygiene, as well as not falling into the sleep traps listed above, can reverse many cases of sleep deficiency. However, if you (or a loved one) think you may be suffering from sleep deprivation caused by a sleep disorder or another sleep condition, ask your nutritionist for a sleep diet & lifestyle consultation to achieve healthier sleep and improved quality of life.

Read our guide How to fix Insomnia for more information and tips on getting a good night’s sleep. 

https://holisticdetoxpri.wordpress.com/2020/06/15/insomnia-your-guide-to-finally-get-a-good-nights-sleep/

By Priyanshi Bhatnagar

Confused about eating soy? The Good and the Bad

So I remember when I was consulting one of my female clients, during the middle of our online consultation, she asked..

| Are soy products safe to consume for females?

It wasn’t a new question for me to be asked during my counselling, but I realised that people are always confused with soy consumption.

Since, soy is widely consumed, not only as a source of plant-based protein but also as an ingredient in many processed foods.

However, soy remains a controversial food — some praise its health benefits, while others claim it could be bad for you.

For vegetarians, vegans, and other dieters who have come to rely on this common meat alternative in their diets, grocery store items rich in soy have developed scary reputations for a purported “disease risk.” Some previously published research can be downright scary, with claims that increased soy can mess with your hormones, the thyroid, and possibly cause cancer.

So which side of this debate is actually right???

— does soy deserve that health halo, or should you swear the stuff off of your shopping list for good?

As is often the case when it comes to nutrition, the answers aren’t black and white. But for the most part, “Soy-based foods are some of the best foods you can eat on the planet.

But

What Is Soy

Soybeans are a type of legume that can be eaten whole or processed into a variety of forms. Soy includes a wide variety of foods, including edamame, products made from whole soybeans, fermented soy foods, more processed soy-based foods, as well as supplements.

Soy is high in plant-based protein and a good source of many nutrients and phytochemicals.

Can check the nutritional value:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/soybeans

It’s important to think about all foods in context. Eating plant-based foods in their closest-to-nature (a.k.a. least processed) form? Super nutritious. While taking supplements made with the compounds in soybean? Not so much.

“That’s where we’ve seen health risks”. Those supplements are linked to increased disease risk, while real, whole foods are linked to decreased disease risk.

Does eating soy affect your hormones?

The controversy around soya comes down to its uniquely high content of isoflavones. These compounds have oestrogenic properties, which means they act like oestrogen, the primary female sex hormone, and bind to oestrogen receptors in the body – and have been blamed for raising the risk of breast cancer (as well as prostate cancer for men). But is this really the case?

Experts still don’t know everything there is to know about soy. But research in recent years suggests that moderate consumption of minimally processed soy foods not only isn’t bad for you, it probably has some benefits. Here’s how the unique phytochemicals in soy may offer several health advantages.

1. May help lower cholesterol

Soy may improve cholesterol levels, especially LDL (bad) cholesterol.

It is found that eating soy products reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol. However, soy supplements didn’t have the same cholesterol-lowering effect as eating soy foods.

Fiber seems to play an important role in the cholesterol-lowering effects of soy. The soy with fiber reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol more than twice as much as soy protein alone.

2. May affect fertility

Soy appears to be beneficial for fertility, as long as you don’t eat too much.

Soy consumption was associated with improved outcomes for women undergoing fertility treatments with assisted reproductive technology. That’s likely because soy’s isoflavones help neutralize the BPA’s endocrine-disrupting effects.

Women who ate soy before in vitro fertilization (IVF) were more likely to have a successful pregnancy than those who did not.

3. May reduce menopause symptoms

Isoflavones are a class of phytoestrogens found naturally in soy that acts as a weak estrogen in the body.

Estrogen levels decrease during menopause, leading to symptoms like hot flashes. Since soy acts as natural estrogen, it may help reduce these symptoms.

Soya’s benefits also depend on the type we consume. Isoflavone content varies in unprocessed soybeans, such as edamame beans, compared to processed soy foods – and the closer the food is to the soybean, the higher its isoflavone levels.

The only thing I can say is that its safe to consume soy foods in amounts consistent with Asian diet, including tofu, fermented soy foods and soymilk, but studies shown that the more soya is processed, the lower the level of isoflavones, which we think are protective elements.

Even so, the like-mindedness clearly indicates health benefits from eating soya – even if that’s simply because it replaces unhealthier foods.

So finally I come up with The Best (and Worst) Types of Soy to Eat

To reap soy’s potential benefits, you need to pick minimally processed forms of soy — think tempeh, tofu, miso, and edamame.

These foods serve up soy’s entire nutritional package without added sugar, unhealthy fats, sodium, or preservatives that you usually find in highly processed foods.

Soy processed like meat analogs, soy bars, soy yogurts, or protein powders usually only contain soy protein isolates, rather than nutrition from the whole soybean, are lower in nutrient density.

As for how often you should eat soy? As with all foods, moderation is the way to go.

By Priyanshi Bhatnagar

10 Creative Yogurt Based Healthy Snacks

And, I remember when I ask for someone one of my closes, about their usual daily snacks. At the start of the list comes the packed, unhealthy names…

This discussion often leave me with so unhealthy stuff

And it’s not right.

So, I found Snack time doesn’t have to be unhealthy. There can be healthy and tasty ways of snacking for all. Here is my secret healthy ingredient to make healthy and portable nutrient-rich snacks that are a great low-calorie.

Yogurt is one of my favourite foods and so versatile. It’s creamy, delicious, healthy and comes in all sorts of flavours you can blend into a variety of snacks. It makes a healthy, filling snack any time of day. Greek yogurt has a thicker texture and more protein and probiotics.

Yogurt and yogurt-based snacks are quick and easy and I feel good continuing to eat them because the carbohydrates and protein keep them fueled through their various activities. Plus, it is an affordable, nutrient-rich snack that continues to support their growing muscles and bones.

1. Yogurt Tzatziki dip

Stir together plain yogurt, chopped cucumber, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, chopped fresh mint and chopped fresh thyme. Serve dip with pita bread or crunchy veggie sticks.

https://www.wholesomeyum.com/easy-greek-tzatziki-sauce-recipe/

2. Peanut butter Yogurt dip

Stir together peanut butter, vanilla yogurt and cinnamon for an easy peanut butter yogurt dip, pair it up with sliced banana or apple.

3. Yogurt Parfait

For rushed mornings, quick afternoon breaks, or pretty much any busy time at all, this combo is a no-brainer. Top yogurt with low-fat granola and fresh fruit and chopped nuts for a speedy snack.

4. Yogurt Pesto dip

Combine 1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup pesto (homemade or store-bought, basic basil or variety of your choice), and mix until smooth. Pair it with roasted vegetables, whole wheat pasta or use as a dipping sauce for chicken, fish, or steak. Spread it on a sandwich, use it as a base for dressing — the possibilities are truly endless because this rockstar sauce goes with pretty much everything.

5. Guacamole

Tex-Mex lovers swear by this dip for creamy, tangy guacamole. Just add a dollop or two of Greek yogurt to your favourite guac recipe and wait for the rave reviews. Bonus: it helps stretch the avocados, for those times when unexpected (or super-hungry) guests show up.

Can check the recipe here :

https://www.justataste.com/creamy-greek-yogurt-guacamole-recipe/

6. Nutella Yogurt

Another easy spread. Add a spoonful of Nutella to a cup of plain Greek yogurt. Sweet, chocolaty, and full of protein — sounds like the perfect snack to us! You can use this mix as a dip for your favorite fruit, too.

7. Overnight Oats

Oats are usually eaten for breakfast (hence the name), but they’re a great snack anytime you need a protein boost. In a bowl, mix together rolled oats, Greek yogurt. After that, the sky’s the limit — add nut butter, seeds, honey or maple syrup, cinnamon, fresh or dried fruit, granola, or even chocolate chips for some flavor and texture. Cover the mixture and let it sit in the fridge overnight or for a few hours until the oats begin to soften.

8. Frozen Yogurt-Covered Berries

Stay cool with these frozen snacks. Dunk pieces of fresh fruit in Greek yogurt (hint: skewering small berries with a toothpick makes it less messy) and spread out on a baking sheet. Store in the freezer for 15 minutes or until hard. This works with any variety of berries.

9. Fruit Yogurt Popsicles

A homemade version of that store-bought yogurt popsicle, but so much healthier, made with your own blend of favorite fruit and yogurt.

Can check the recipe:

https://www.theidearoom.net/yogurt-fruit-and-granola-popsicles/

10. Spinach-Power Smoothie

Refuel your tiring evening with this smoothie full of calcium, iron-rich spinach and flaxseed (for a healthy dose of that Omega-3s). Blend up ½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt with 1 cup milk (of your choice), 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 2 cups spinach, 1 banana, 3 strawberries, and 1 teaspoon flaxseed.

What are your favorite ways to eat yogurt?

By Priyanshi Bhatnagar

8 Proven Steps to Lose Weight Instead of Counting Calories + 9 My Personal Strategy

My previous article was entirely emphasised on why we should stop counting calories for overall health benefits.

But while I focused on reasons to stop counting calories and it impacts our physical and mental well being.

So, here I bring out the healthy ways of getting the result of most of your health goals naturally and holistically.

This is exactly how we should do for better longterm health.

Instead of pulling out your logbook and pens, follow these tips and you’ll naturally begin to drop weight while healing your body and satisfying hunger pangs, ensuring your belly doesn’t constantly ring the alarm that’s it’s hungry. Speaking of which, to curb your appetite quickly and easily—without diet pills or counting calorie plans—don’t miss our essential healthy eating ways.

1. Listen to your body: Notice the sensations your my body before, during, and after eating.

Think about what you eat makes you feel. Is it satisfying? Enjoyable to eat? Does it keep you full until lunch or does it leave you wanting a snack after an hour?

“For example, does the meal gives you sustained energy or do you have an energy crash?”

2. Tune in to what your body actually wants.

Healthy eating encourages you to get back in touch with your body’s own signals that tell us what to eat and when rather than relying on external cues like strict diet rules.

“Diet culture has disconnected us from our bodies and the wisdom that lies within it.” If we were to get out of our head and listen and connect to our body, we’d eat a lot differently.

3. Eat more plants and whole foods.

Fill up on foods containing fiber, healthy fats and phytonutrients like fruits, nuts, beans, virgin plant oils, non-starchy veggies, minimally processed whole grains, and fish, as well as yoghurt with live probiotics.

Cheese, eggs, poultry and unprocessed red meat can be eaten in moderation.

4. Eat fewer processed foods.

It’s best to minimize your intake of ultra-processed foods such as chips, candy, soda and packaged snack cakes — basically anything containing ingredients like artificial flavours, hydrogenated oils and emulsifiers.

5. Cook at Home more.

Take a break from those nightly takeout orders. Take-out and restaurant meals are often high in sugar, sodium and unhealthy fat — not to mention the portion sizes can be excessive. When you’re preparing your own food, however, you’re in charge of the ingredients that go into each meal to assure they align with your health goals.

6. Make a Nutrition checklist.

Make sure all the 5 major food groups have an appearance. (How many servings of fruits did you have today? Did any of your meals contain healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, or nuts?) Keep notes on how many servings of each food group you had-it’s the best way to ensure you get everything you need while avoiding empty-calorie foods.

7. Understand Meal portions.

Three ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards, a half cup of grains is roughly the size of your palm, and one cup of veggies is equivalent to a medium-sized fist. Stick to those approximate measurements so you don’t eat too much.

8. Follow the 80-20 rule

Because creating healthy habits takes time, be sure to leave room for error during your weight-loss journey. The idea is simple: just eat healthfully 80 per cent of the time and leave 20 per cent of the time to splurge. That way, you won’t feel guilty and stressed if you happen to nab a slice of pizza at your cousin’s backyard party.

Just try to keep the bar high on your indulgences. For example, make your own homemade desserts using quality ingredients instead of buying those packaged, processed cakes.

Here are my 9 personal things I do instead of counting calories:

1. I always eat when I’m hungry.

2. I eat foods that I’m actually in the mood to eat.

3. I put my full attention on the meal in front of me.

4. I sit down when I eat.

5. I chew every bite before taking another.

6. I enjoy the flavours, texture, mouthfeel, sounds, richness, crunchiness or softness, saltiness or sweetness.

7. I make an effort to eat healthy foods and make an equal effort to eat the healthy foods that taste good to me.

8. I sometimes choose to eat foods purely for the please of eating them, even when they are not “healthy”.

9. I sometimes choose to eat more food than is comfortable, either because the food tastes really good or because I know I won’t have time to eat again for a while (such as during a busy workday).

It’s empowering to know that your body knows best. It validates all of those signals your body sends you a moment to moment, even the urge to eat a little something extra at the end of a meal.

Now before you go, I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below.

11 Top Reasons Why You Should Stop Counting Calories

(…)

And every time, my friend jump to her calorie calculator whenever eating the food.

But for how long could she continue this habit of calculating every meal?

You’ll have to wait to find out. But first, let’s take a look at how I find people calculating calories….

It’s a funny thing for me to see, as the more u count calories, the less u are paying attention to the food in front of you. It is like looking at a spreadsheet on a plate. All you see is numbers.

Counting calories is a time-consuming, soul-sucking practise that’s actually a lesson in futility, as far as I’m concerned. Yet people continue to do it. They pull out their calorie-tracking apps and plug-in whatever foods they’ve eaten, feeling guilty when they go over their “recommended” calorie amounts, then running to the gym to try to undo it all. And I can’t blame them: The idea that monitoring all your calories is key for ”weight loss” is a popular one.

Let me tell you weight loss is about so much more than calories. It encompasses exercise, how you sleep, how stressed you are, and health issues that you may not be able to control, like hormonal changes. That’s why, if losing weight is your goal, it’s important to acknowledge how individual a process it is and figure out how to do it in a way that’s healthy for you.

Reasons to Stop Counting Calories

1) Labels can lie

Seriously. Labelling laws allow a 20% margin of error on the nutrition facts panel. That means your 100-calorie snack pack could be 119 calories. Or that 500 calorie Internet dinner could be nearly 600 calories.

2) Nutrients vary by season, variety, ripeness, etc

There is no way food companies or the USDA could have the nutrient analysis of every variety of food from every region from every season from different growing conditions (i.e organic vs. conventional) and every other variable for nutrients, including calories.

That super-sweet summer fruit likely has more calories (and valuable nutrients) than that tasteless, pick one from the dead of winter. Which one would you rather eat?

3) “More calories equals weight gain” is not an exact science

Trouble is, when you focus on calories, you’re likely to eat less fat (since fat is more calorie-dense than carbohydrate and protein). And when you eat less fat, you’re likely to eat more carbohydrates. See the problem?

4)Focusing on calories often means we restrict healthy foods

This especially happens when it comes to fat. We often omit higher fat foods simply because they are higher in calories without taking into consideration what benefits we might get from them, such as staying fuller for longer and getting necessary nutrients, like fat-soluble vitamins.

5)You don’t know how many calories your body is absorbing from food

Everything from how your food is processed to how much fiber it contains determines how many calories you’re absorbing from it. Even the bacteria in your gut may play a part in how you digest food and how many calories you derive from it.

For example, you’ll absorb more calories peanut butter versus whole peanuts. Due to size differences, one sweet potato varies in calories from another before you even take it off the shelf at the store. Calories absorbed is a complex business that’s light years beyond any calorie-counting app on the market.

6)Counting calories can encourage you to ignore your hunger cues

Focusing entirely on calories, instead of the quality of the food you’re eating and how you actually feel before chowing down (hungry, bored, stressed, etc.), can wreak havoc on those precious hunger cues you’re born with.

Whether you’re eating just because you “have calories left,” even though you’re not truly hungry, or you’re not eating because you’ve “gone over” your calorie allotment for the day, but you’re actually still hungry, you’re doing the same thing: ignoring what your body is trying to tell you.

Trust your body, because it knows what it needs a lot more than some random number or tracker

7)Calorie counting adds to the misconception you can “work off” the food you eat

Nope. Your body doesn’t burn off food calorie-for-calorie like that.

Let me emphasize that “it is where the calories come from that is crucial” in determining whether your body is tempted to store them as fat, use them for energy, or apply them to some other mechanism.

Plus, if you do routinely overindulge then try to work it off in the gym, you’ll be exercising for a very long time, depending on the size of the junky meals you’ve eaten. This, in turn, may cause you to become hungrier…and eat more. Vicious cycle? Definitely.

The good news is that when you only overeat from time to time, your body can handle those extra calories without making you gain weight. It’s when you overeat on a more frequent basis that you can get into the weight-gain territory.

8)It puts us in a restrictive diet mentality

Restriction leads to feelings of deprivation, which leads to feelings of desperation, which leads to binges or obsessive thoughts or cravings, which leads to feelings of guilt or shame, followed by more restriction and over and over”. This is completely normal and not caused by a lack of self-control or willpower — it’s because your body is sensing that restriction.

9)You might fixate on a number rather than on nutrition

If you’re counting calories, you might end up excluding certain nutrient-dense foods from your diet just because they’re higher in calories: think avocados, salmon, olive oil, walnuts or chia seeds. Instead, you might go for something with less nutritional value ― like, say, a 100-calorie pack of crackers ― just because it will help you stay under your allotment for the day.

From a health perspective, it is better to focus on the quality of the diet ― e.g. avoiding ultra-processed foods and eating adequate amounts of produce.

10)You may develop an unhealthy relationship with food.

For some, counting calories (or any other eating plan that requires strict adherence) can lead to an obsession with food, which can result in disordered eating habits and increase anxiety and depression.

If you have a medical condition that requires a specific diet, it should be monitored by a health professional, such as a nutritionist.

11)You may be able to lose weight this way, but keeping it off will be a challenge

Indeed, restricting calories may yield weight loss in the short term, but for many people, it’s not sustainable. And it’s not because of a lack of effort or willpower.

“Eventually the body begins to fight back, activating multiple overlapping mechanisms for preventing weight loss that was developed in our evolutionary past when food was scarce.”

In the end, calories matter, but the number of calories we eat — and burn — are both influenced long-term by the types of food we eat,”

Now before you go, I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below.

By Priyanshi Bhatnagar

Common Reasons Why Your Insomnia Isn’t Going (And How To Fix It)

Do you struggle to get to sleep no matter how tired you are?

Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and lie awake for hours, anxiously watching the clock?

Then you should understand the underlying problem first to find the solution.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia means an inability to sleep,” or stay asleep at night, resulting in unrefreshing or non-restorative sleep. And it’s a very common problem, one that takes a toll on your energy, mood, and ability to function during the day.

Many adults experience short-term (acute) insomnia, which lasts for days or weeks. It’s usually the result of stress or a traumatic event. But some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia that lasts for a month or more and can even contribute to serious health problems.

Because different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by the quality of your sleep and how you feel after sleeping—not the number of hours you sleep or how quickly you doze off. Even if you’re spending eight hours a night in bed, if you feel drowsy and fatigued during the day, you may be experiencing insomnia.

Symptoms

• Difficulty falling asleep at night

• Waking up during the night

• Waking up too early

• Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep

• Daytime tiredness, Fatigue or sleepiness

• Mood disturbance like Irritability, depression or anxiety

• Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering

• Increased errors or accidents

• Ongoing worries about sleep

• Low motivation or energy

Causes

Insomnia doesn’t just have one cause — it can be caused by a number of factors.

Treating the underlying cause can resolve insomnia, but sometimes it can last for years. These causes can include:

1. Medical conditions

• Nasal/sinus allergies

• Gastrointestinal problems such as reflux

• Endocrine problems such as hyperthyroidism

• Arthritis

• Asthma

• Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease

• Chronic pain or Low back pain

2. Medication

• Certain antidepressants

• Medications for asthma or blood pressure

• Pain medications, allergy and cold medications

• Weight-loss products

3.Psychiatric conditions

• Tension

• Depression/ Anxiety

• Schizophrenia

• Bipolar disorder

• ADHD

• Getting caught up in thoughts about past events

4.Dietary habits

• Consuming too much caffeine

• Consuming too much alcohol

• Consuming too much nicotine

• Consuming heavy evening meals

5.Other Sleep disorders

• Sleep apnea

• Restless legs syndrome

• Jet lag

• Late-night shift work

• Having an inconsistent or irregular sleep schedule

6.Mental Health disorders

• Anxiety disorders

• Post-traumatic stress disorder

• Awakening too early

• Depression

Preventions

Good sleep habits, also called sleep hygiene, can help you beat insomnia. Here are some tips:

• Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including weekends.

Stay active — Regular activity helps promote a good night’s sleep. Try not to work out close to bedtime, because it may make it hard to fall asleep.

• Check your medications to see if they may contribute to insomnia.

• Avoid or try not to take naps during the day, because they may make you less sleepy at night.

• Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol, and don’t use nicotine.

• Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime.

• Make your bedroom comfortable: dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold. If the light is a problem, use a sleeping mask. To cover up sounds, try earplugs, a fan, or a white noise machine.

• Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a warm bath, reading or listening to soft music.

Don’t use phones or e-books before bed. Their light can make it harder to fall asleep.

• If you can’t fall asleep and aren’t drowsy, get up and do something calming, like reading until you feel sleepy.

• If you tend to lie awake and worry about things, make a to-do list before you go to bed. This may help you put your concerns aside for the night.

Nutrition and Insomnia

Plenty of treatment options for insomnia are available. Good sleep habits and a healthy diet can remedy many cases of insomnia.

Blood sugar balance

Excessive sugar in your blood can have you feeling wide awake, whereas if your blood sugar is low, your body’s response is to release cortisol, will probably feel hungry which may keep you awake, and you may also feel irritable which won’t help either.

Eat a diet that will stabilise your blood sugar (known as the Low GL diet), this means eating low GL carbohydrates, as well as combining your low GL carbohydrates with protein in a ratio of 1:1, such as fresh fruit with a handful of nuts, oatcakes with humous or celery and cottage cheese.

Lack of Amino acid & B vitamins

The key sleep hormone is called melatonin. The conversion of an amino acid (tryptophan) into neurotransmitters and hormones requires nutrient co-factors, in particular the B vitamins, so a lack of these may also be responsible for low melatonin levels.

Include meat (red meat, poultry, fish), eggs, dairy products (milk, cheese), legumes (beans, lentils), seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds), dark leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, Chinese broccoli), and whole grains (brown rice, barley, millet).

Magnesium

Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s relaxant’. Increased magnesium intake may reduce anxiety, improve constipation, relieve menstrual cramps, reduce headaches and calm hyperactivity.

Increase your magnesium intake through increased intake of green leafy vegetables (eg spinach, kale, cabbage, spring greens etc) and pumpkin seeds.

Excess Caffeine

Caffeine has a variety of biochemical actions including increasing levels of stress and motivation hormones (catecholamines and cortisol) and suppressing melatonin production for up to ten hours. What many people don’t realise, however, is that we are very individual in terms of our sensitivity to caffeine and while some people seem to be able to drink a double-espresso after dinner and apparently sleep well, the more sensitive amongst us will suffer from poor sleep from just a single cup in the morning.

If your consumption is high, make the reduction gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Instead, drink herbal teas or naturally caffeine-free teas such as Rooibos (redbush). You could also drink the occasional glass of tart cherry juice – those who drank two glasses of tart cherry juice versus placebo had increased melatonin levels, sleep duration and sleep quality.

Lack of Iron

Iron deficiency, even at levels insufficient to cause anaemia, has been associated with this syndrome, and iron deficiency anaemia is also associated with insomnia in pregnancy.

The good news is a high-fibre diet, with lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, lowered the risk of sleepless nights. Fiber can help slow the rate at which your body absorbs glucose, could help cure or prevent insomnia. 

Insomnia is often treated with cognitive-behavioural therapy or medications, but these can be expensive or carry side effects. Some people find over-the-counter sleeping tablets helpful, but they don’t address the underlying problem and can have troublesome side effects.

Try the varied preventions available for insomnia to help restore your normal sleep. Talk to your healthcare provider and discuss which of the lifestyle changes, behavioural therapies, or dietary options are right for you.

By Priyanshi Bhatnagar