Sleep: the gift of the gods

While most of us could use a week at a spa to de-stress, our heavy schedules barely allow enough time to get a good night’s sleep. Surely, we could all use more of this Gift of the Gods to recharge our spirits.
We are a sleep deprived nation and not getting enough rest has vast implications. When we’re tired, our cognitive function drops, job performance decreases, our concentration is diminished, we lose our tempers faster and our waistlines increase.
“The Duvet Diet,” a sleep-yourself-thinner plan advanced by author Jane Worthington, indicates that one extra hour of sleep every night for a year could translate to a weight loss of 10 pounds.
Dr. Shahrad Taheri, who operates an obesity clinic at University of Bristol, has done extensive research in this area and told the Times Online, “How much sleep we have affects our IQ, our suicide risk, our chance of substance abuse and our weight.”
For decades, the national average of body weight has been on the increase. Most of us admit we’re getting far less sleep, too. Are the two really connected? Yes. Obviously, if we’re awake longer, we have the opportunity to consume more calories. But it’s more than that:

  • A bad night’s sleep usually equates with over-eating the next day and may convert to an increase of 1,000 calories in an attempt to overcome fatigue.
  • Hormones that control appetite are decreased with a lack of sleep.
  • Lower glucose tolerance levels result from a poor quality of sleep and, therefore, can also be a factor in obesity by increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
  • Less sleep equates to rising body mass index (BMI) and that applies to kids, too.
    Also, a single poor night’s sleep can depress and compromise our immune systems.
    Interestingly enough, RealAge.com tells us eating the right foods can help us sleep. “Bananas,” states the website, are “practically a sleeping pill in a peel. Bananas contain sleep aids melatonin and serotonin as well as magnesium, a known muscle relaxant.”
    Also, Mom was right, warm milk is a great sleep aid because it contains a trace of tryptophan, an amino acid with a sedative-like effect, as well as calcium.
    Honey, according to RealAge.com, is also a sleep aid. Put a teaspoon or two of honey in warm milk or chamomile tea. This tiny bit of glucose will send a message to your brain to turn off a neurotransmitter that has been linked to alertness.
    Oatmeal is wonderful source of melatonin; make it with warm milk and a drizzle of honey.
    Almonds are not only good for your heart, but they also contain tryptophan and magnesium which assist in getting more sleep. Drop some sliced almonds into oatmeal with half of a mashed banana, honey and warm milk. Sweet dreams, cupcake, and reduce your cholesterol, too, while you hug your teddy.
    Whole wheat toast with a little honey and a cup of chamomile tea can make for a late snack that’s low cal and high octane zzzzzz.
    Set the stage for a great night’s sleep by having a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread or have just the turkey with a small white potato and you will be on your way to la-la land after that bubble bath.
    According to DrSears.com, the best dinners to induce a good night’s sleep:

  • Pasta with parmesan cheese
  • Hummus with whole wheat pita bread
  • Meats and poultry with veggies
  • Tuna salad sandwich
  • Scrambled eggs and cheese
  • Cottage cheese, pasta and seafood
  • Salad with tuna chunks sprinkled with sesame seeds and accompanied by whole wheat crackers

    If you’re watching your cholesterol and concerned about saying “cheese” too often, ask your doctor about taking calcium supplements. Calcium can be a great sleep aid, but don’t use it unless your physician says it’s right for you.
    For another non-food sleep aid, try a little aromatherapy, including some lavender oil on your pillow case. Pleasant dreams.

    Irene A. Masiello is a certified holistic/CORE counselor, a stress management consultant & adult educator. She’s the author of the newly released Paradise Costs (Infinity Publishing), a true story about elder abuse and exploitation, and how to raise consciousness about this social ill. Take part in reality writing in this innovative approach to embracing creative challenge resolution by being part of a solution and STOP ELDER ABUSE NOW! Reach Irene at 718-776-5644.

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