Lack of sleep can cause major damage to your health, but knowing it does not help us sleep better. What kind of foods can help you sleep better?
We tend to underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep, and the truth is that not sleeping the recommender 7 to 9 hours per day can shorten our lifespan and affect our health in many ways.
Sleeping any less than 7 hours a night is considered to be damaging to your health. Sleep deprivation can increase the chances of heart disease and high blood pressure, among other harmful effects, and did you know it can take your body up to four days to recover from a single hour of lost sleep?
These are the effects of sleep deprivation
You get sick more often
People who sleep less tend to have a more depressed immune system, thus, our body is less able to fight back against the disease.
Weight gain and diabetes
People who sleep less than seven hours a day are prone to gain more weight and are at a higher risk of becoming obese. The reason for this is that sleep-deprived people have lower levels of leptin –a chemical responsible for making you feel full after eating–, as well as higher levels of ghrelin –the hunger hormone. Not getting enough sleep also increases your levels of cortisol –the stress hormone–– to help you stay awake, and this makes it harder for insulin to control blood sugar levels. As lack of sleep makes you hungry, and insulin is not able to control blood sugar levels, it makes it more likely to develop type-2 diabetes.
Depression and lowered sex drive
Just as resting allows the body to recover physically, it also allows emotions to be processed until they become less painful. As lack of sleep also leads to the release of cortisol, it reduces testosterone production, paramount to the sex drive of men and women.
Foods advise helping you sleep better
Avoid eating less than three hours before going to bed –so you are not still digesting food when you sleep.
Stay away from foods high in fat, sugar and calories –such as white bread, potatoes, white rice, processed meats, snacks and soft drinks. High glycaemic index (GI) foods cause a rapid spike in blood sugar –it makes you feel great while it’s happening but is followed by a sudden crash that makes you crave more food. This not only encourages diabetes and obesity, but it also messes with your body clock, making it more difficult to sleep.
Include low and medium GI foods regularly –these are unprocessed fish and meat, eggs, soy products, beans, fruit, milk, pasta, grainy bread, oats, and lentils. These types of foods are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
Cut down on caffeinated beverages as they can damage your sleep.
Include food that encourages the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and the happiness hormone serotonin. Food containing vitamin B6, D and omega-3 fatty acids can help. Fish, spinach and cabbage, bananas and almonds are great choices.
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