Sleep On It
Sleeeep!!! Do you sometimes wish you could actually sleep on it? If you have a hard time getting enough sleep, rest assured you are not alone. Last week my little boy, Luca, was fighting a cold. It created inflammation in his breathing passages and caused him to wake up several times each night for a few days. As you can imagine, he was fuzzy and exhausted. And to be honest, so was I....
Among other chronic health problems facing the American public, chronic sleep deprivation robs us of productivity, good judgment, and longevity. Numerous studies have shown that most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every day to function at their best. Despite this, up to one-third of American adults regularly fail to get sufficient sleep. That means tens of millions of Americans are so sleep deprived they may be a hazard to themselves and others.
It’s not just about being groggy or grumpy during the day, though. Three new studies suggest it’s critical for people struggling with sleep problems to seek treatment. The consequences of ignoring the problem are severe, not only for affected individuals, but for society as a whole.
An Asian study of subjects with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), for example, concluded that people with severe forms of the disorder—which disrupts sleep repeatedly throughout the night—are two-and-a-half times more likely to die of all causes than normal sleepers, and four times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease.
Another relatively large Australian study concluded that people with untreated OSA were three times more likely to be involved in vehicle crashes than the general public. A third recent study, conducted in Korea, showed that people who sleep less than six hours per day—or more than nine hours—had poorer self-rated health scores than normal sleepers.
Adequate sleep is a fundamental component of good health and an essential requirement for wellness. Sleep apnea is often associated with obesity, suggesting that all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, including diet, exercise and good sleep, are closely interrelated.
If you have trouble falling asleep, you may benefit from using melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland in response to complete darkness, and then released into the bloodstream. Among other beneficial effects, it promotes the onset of sleep. There are different reasons why melatonin levels might be low at times, affecting the ability to fall and stay sleep.
Most people start with as little as 3 mg, taken by mouth a few minutes before going to bed.
In addition to supplemental melatonin, there are herbal remedies like St. John’s Wort, and fruits like bananas, apples and tart cherries, which contain naturally occurring melatonin. Experts suggest that consuming melatonin-rich foods can boost blood serum levels of this beneficial antioxidant hormone.
What keeps you up at night? Are there foods that make it difficult for you to fall asleep and stay asleep? Share this article and post your comments below. Let me know what you think.
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