Written by Achiever Foods Nutrition Unit
Sleep is a natural process every human experiences. It is the time the body is at rest from active physical work. For adult individuals, sleep requirements vary from between 6 – 10 hours and is more for younger persons (children). Sleep helps the body and mind to rejuvenate and keeps the individual refreshed. It helps to keep the body healthy and reduce the risk for some stress related diseases. Brain function is also affected when sleep is deficient in an individual’s life, it can also affect the developmental process in children. An individual’s mood, heart health, immunity, creativity, vitality, and weight may also be affected, when sleep is deficient consistently over a period of time. Not having a quality sleep as you should can also affect your day.
The quantity of sleep is different from quality of sleep. Quantity of sleep is when an individual gets the recommended amount of sleep during night sleep. Quality of sleep is defined by the following characteristics:
• Falling asleep soon after getting into bed, at least within 30 minutes or less.
• Having uninterrupted sleep: waking up not more than once during night sleep
• Sleeping the recommended amount of hours for your age group.
• Falling back asleep within 20 minutes or less if you happen to wake up during night sleep.
• Feeling well rested, restored, and rejuvenated when you wake up in the morning.
THE THINGS THAT COULD PREVENT AN INDIVIDUAL FROM HAVING QUALITY SLEEP INCLUDE
- Day to day activities of the person
- Eating habits of the person, work schedules, anxiety or worry
- Unfavorable sleeping environment eg. Noisy or poorly ventilated bedroom.
- Those who have sleep disorders and are on special medications to help them sleep at night. Such person’s may find it difficult to sleep without the aid of prescribed medications.
Over time, research has shown that not having enough quality sleep can make an individual prone to some health issues. It is very important to ensure that one has quality sleep, whether with the aid of medications or naturally. Not having quality sleep can have negative implications such as hypertension and other heart diseases, as well as diabetes, overweight, decrease in libido, mental dullness, impaired cognitive processing, forgetfulness, lack of focus and concentration, increased rate of aging of the skin, tired look, dullness, refresh, signs and symptoms of depression are likely to set in.
Having a good amount of daylight exposure helps to keep one alert during the day so you can rest properly at night. Poor lifestyle choices and unhealthy day to day engagements or activities can end up depriving an individual of qualify sleep and can affect the sleep process when night falls.
SOME WAYS TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF AN INDIVIDUAL’S SLEEP
▪️ INTERACTIONS WITH DAY LIGHT
As mentioned earlier, exposure to day light helps to keep you wake and alert during the day so you can rest properly during the night.
The brain produces a hormone that controls our sleep-wake cycle. Less is produced when there’s light around an individual but more is produced when there’s dark. This hormone, melatonin is naturally found in everyone.
▪️ UNFAVORABLE SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
When it’s time to sleep, ensure that the room is dark and all bright screens are off especially of devices that we use. You may reduce the brightness of the light form the screen, if it is necessary to still work before bedtime. Late night watching of Television is not advisable as it would stimulate the brain to keep functioning. You can try reading a book or listening to an audio music to help you relax instead. Bedroom should be kept quiet, cool, not hot, it should be well ventilated to improve quality of sleep. Bed must be comfortable with pillows to provide support when necessary. If possible, avoiding working in the bedroom, so that your brain can associated it with only sleeping (and sex if you are sexually active), it makes it easier to fall asleep.
Also, limit day time nap to between 10-20 minutes, if you really have to, so that you can have optimal sleep at night.
▪️ REGULAR EXERCISE DURING THE DAY
One benefit of exercising during the day is that, it keeps you sharp and alert. It helps you stay up, keeps you going and keeps sleep away during the day. It also improves symptoms of difficulty sleeping (insomnia) and helps one sleep better at night. The more an individual exercises, the better their sleep quality gets. It is a build up, hence the improvement in quality of sleep is experienced when the individual does it regularly for some time. Exercising too close to bed time can interfere with sleep at night as it can lead to increase in metabolism, temperature and the hormone cortisol.
▪️ EATING HABITS
Food and feeding is an essential part of life that needs attention. The choices of food of an individual plays an important role in their state during the day, and night as well, amongst other benefits. Eating habits matter when it comes to obtaining quality sleep at night. Indigestion, stomach upset and heart burns are some of the results of eating heavy meals, spicy foods and very rich foods late in the evening before bedtime. These need to be avoided, supper should be eaten early, thus, more than 2 hours before bedtime to prevent these effects.
Reduce intake of lots of water and fluids when it is getting to sleep time, as it can interrupt sleep by causing frequent visits to the bathroom during night sleep.
Limit sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at night, as they can also interrupt the sleep pattern by keeping you awake at night. Caffeine can stay up to 8-10 hours or more after taking it, hence limit caffeine intake up to about 8 hours before bedtime. Smoking, example: cigarettes contain stimulants that keep an individual awake when he or she smokes close to bed time. Alcohol may help you relax but when it wears off, your sleep is likely to be interrupted.
Here are some foods that can be taken at night, usually these are food that contain sleep supportive compounds such as melatonin, serotonin, tryptophan, calcium and magnesium:
A low sugar diet or cereal, a small bowl of whole grain meal eg. Oatmeal, milk, low fat yogurt, banana, almonds, kiwi, protein (milk) based smoothies, diary products, strawberries, eggs, turkey berry tea. Most importantly, try and keep the healthy snacks you enjoy on hand or in the refrigerator for days that you may have to eat late.
Medications also play a role in improving the quality of sleep of an individual. They are usually recommended by doctors in the management of a sleep disorder that is confirmed. It is wrong to take medications on your own to help you sleep without seeing the right health professional involved. If you are also on medications that prevent you from having enough and a good sleep, let your doctor have them reviewed. If there is any health issue that prevents you from having an uninterrupted sleep at night, for instance pain in any part of your body, kindly see a doctor and have it checked.
Having quality sleep enhances the overall health of an individual and helps in the growth process of individuals. We can also see the role our choices of food play when it comes to improving the quality of our sleep. Endeavour to live in a healthy state every day, especially as you age so you can enjoy and count your blessings, naming them one by one.
Finally, always make sure you don’t deny yourself quality and quantity of sleep. If you need any Daliha Product, kindly click on the link below www.achieverfoods/shop to place your order and it will be delivered to you at your door. Call or Whatsapp 0200877339 and we will attend to you.