A good night’s sleep enhances energy, mood, motivation, keeps appetite hormones in check and reduces the risk for many chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and more. Psychologically, a good night’s sleep reduces the risk of depression and anxiety.
• One in seven Canadians have insomnia (problems going to sleep or staying asleep);
• Canadians with chronic diseases have a higher incidence of insomnia. 20 per cent of people with asthma, arthritis or rheumatism, back problems or diabetes reported insomnia, whereas only 12 percent of people who did not have these conditions, did so;
• Canadians suffer from more insomnia as we get older, 10 per cent of people aged 15 to 24 and 20 per cent aged 75 or older reported insomnia;
• Canadian men sleep less than women;
• Married Canadians sleep less than unmarried Canadians;
• Canadians with children sleep less than those without;
Source: Statistics Canada
Avoid glowing gadgets. There’s growing concern among experts that the increased use of glowing gadgets such as computers may fool your brain into thinking that it’s still daytime after the sun has gone down. Exposure during the night can disturb sleep patterns and intensify insomnia. It’s a good idea to turn cell phones, iPads, computers and TVs off 1.5 hours before bed to reduce nervous system stimulation.
Avoid caffeinated beverages after 12 noon. Caffeine acts as a stimulant by exerting an effect on the central nervous system. The effects of caffeine on the body may begin as early as 15 minutes after ingesting and last up to six hours.
Exercise, but not after 8 p.m. Exercise enhances the deep, refreshing stage of sleep when done earlier in the day. Exercise stimulates you and leaves you exhilarated. It is also more likely that you will want a meal after exercising. There are of course unwinding exercise that can be done, simple stretches and relaxation exercises. Take a walk in the morning to expose yourself to early morning light. This helps your circadian rhythm adjust so at night you wind down easier.
No food after 8 p.m. A late night meal prompts you to stay up to digest as your digestive system shuts down when you sleep. Debate rages as to whether or not this causes weight gain. However, we do know indigestion and heartburn can cause sleep difficulty, so avoid the temptation to eat too late.
Consider the impact of sleeping pills. A study published recently in the journal BMJ Open, showed the importance of not becoming dependent on sleeping pills to fight insomnia. People who take certain prescription sleeping pills even once in a while may be up to five times more susceptible to early death, this U.S. study suggests. The study was done by Dr. Daniel Kripke of Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Centre in La Jolla, California and colleagues. To look for any associations between use of common hypnotics and increased mortality and cancer risks, the researchers compared death rates among 10,529 people who received prescriptions for sleeping pills and 23,600 others who did not but were similar in terms of age, physical health, income and other factors.
Joy McCarthy is a Registered/Certified Holistic Nutritionist, CNP, RNCP for the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA). Article courtesy of the CHFA. Visit www.chfa.ca for more information.