As it’s Sleep Awareness Week, this post includes random facts about sleep, foods to eat and avoid and tips to help you sleep better.
Facts About Sleep.
- New parents lose an average of 44 days of sleep, because of their newborns.
- We can sleep with our eyes open.
- Some people dream in black and white. A lot more did before colour televisions were invented.
- We are the only mammals that can delay sleep. Other mammals must go to sleep when their bodies tells them to.
- In 1964, Randy Gardner stayed awake for 11 days!
- You can’t sneeze while sleeping.
- The strangers in our dreams are not strangers. We’ve seen everyone before. The brain cannot create people, so it uses faces that have already been registered with it.
- We grow 0.3 inches while sleeping. However, this is temporary as we shrink back down to normal after we’ve been awake for a few hours. When we sit or stand our cartilage discs are squeezed by gravity, like sponges.
Foods to Help You Sleep.
The following foods may help us to sleep better:-
- Walnuts and Almonds. Both contain tryptophan – a sleep-enhancing amino acid, and magnesium which has been shown to relax our muscles.
- Cheese. Again, contains tryptophan. However, don’t eat too much due to the high-fat content.
- Tuna. High in vitamin B6 – critical for the production of melatonin which is responsible for regulating our body clocks. Other sources of this vitamin are chickpeas, bananas and salmon.
- Cherry juice. Again, a source of melatonin and tryptophan. Drink 2 glasses of tart cherry juice every day.
- Cereal. Wholegrains and oats, quinoa and buckwheat help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Chamomile tea. A natural, mild tranquillizer and sleep inducer.
- Honey. Raw honey contains a perfect balance of fructose and glucose which helps the liver to produce a satisfactory amount of glycogen throughout the day and night; therefore promoting restful sleep.
Foods to Avoid that can Disrupt Sleep.
- Caffeine. Don’t drink it after lunchtime.
Image from Tenor
- Spicy foods. Don’t eat spicy food near bedtime.
- Foods high in fat. They mess with the production of orexin – a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate the sleep/wake cycle along with melatonin.
If you’re hungry before going to bed, eat a light snack such as a bowl of cereal, cheese and crackers or peanut butter on toast.
Tips to Help You Sleep.
- Try to get in natural light during the day by going outside, opening up windows or blinds or use a light therapy box.
- Exercise can promote solid sleep but don’t do any intense exercises too close to your bedtime.
- Make sure your mattress and pillows give proper support to your back to avoid aches and pains.
- Avoid light disruption. Use blackout curtains over your windows or wear a sleep mask to block light and prevent it from interfering with your rest.
Image from Tenor
- Drown out any noise with a fan or wear earplugs or headphones.
- Sleep in a cooler room that is around 65°F.
- Use essential oil like lavender in your room. You could use an infuser of drops on your pillow.
- Set a fixed wake-up time and stick to it.
- If you nap, don’t do too long after lunch. The best time is the early afternoon. And don’t nap longer than 20 minutes.
- Have a consistent routine before bed. Start winding down for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Do some quiet reading, low- impact stretching, listen to soothing music or relaxation exercises.
- Disconnect from devices. The blue light emitted from tablets etc. can delay the sleep-inducing melatonin, which can increase alertness and reset the body’s internal clock to a later schedule. Therefore, either avoid looking at bright screens about 2 to 3 hours before bed or download a blue light reduction app on your device. Or, read an actual book!
- If you can’t get to sleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing in low light. Don’t check the time.
- Finally, talk to your doctor if your sleep problem is getting worse, affecting your health and safety or if it occurs alongside other unexplained health issues.
At times, I struggle with insomnia, which can last for weeks. I find during these times, my moods and energy levels fluctuate and my concentration worsens. For example, I have gone to a cupboard in my kitchen, only to forget, a second later, what I’m looking for!
Other times, I’ve felt spaced out and disconnected from others. I feel even worse reading the horror stories about the negative effects of insomnia on our health. However, I’m not describing THOSE here.
Experts say we should aim for about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. But, everyone’s different. If I feel refreshed when I wake up and alert during the day, that’ll do for me. I don’t want to be kept awake by worrying about not sleeping!
Have you any other tips to sleep better? Feel free to share them in the comments section.
Sources: m.activebeat.com, alaskasleep.com, eatingwell.com, rd.com, sleepfoundation.org, sleepdoctor.com, health.harvard.edu, restonic.com