Sleep Your Way To Health

Sleep Your Way To Health

The stresses and strains of modern life, and our 24/7 lifestyles, are making it harder to get a good night’s sleep. So it is no wonder that experts throughout the world are exploring old and new ways to help us to get more and better-quality sleep and to use the power of sleep to benefit our health. Their keys tips are shared on the following pages.

Drink Cherry Juice
If you regularly drink cherry juice, you cannot add up to 25 minutes a night to your sleep. Among volunteers studied by researchers at Northumbria University in the UK, those who drank 30ml (1fl oz) of Montmorency cherry juice twice a day for a week found that their daytime. Napping decreased and their night-time sleep was prolonged. Further tests revealed the juice stimulates the production of melatonin, the body’s natural sleeping-including chemical.

Sleep Soundly To Avoid Colds
Try to have a full 7 to 8 hours’ sleep every night. Contrary to popular perception – and widespread claims that some successful public figures manage to be effective on only 3 or 4 hours sleep a night – it is not a smart move to stint on sleep. Sleep deprivation will not only impair your judgement but also leave you vulnerable to disease. When a group of 153 healthy men and women were giving nasal drops containing the common cold virus it was found that the less each of them slept the more likely they were to catch the cold.

Don’t Drive Tired
Make sure you have had enough sleep before driving. Sleeping less than 5 hours a night can quadruple your risk of an accident. According to the UK statistics, failing asleep in a factor around 20 per cent of all accidents – most often caused by men aged 30 and under. Sufferers from sleep apnoea are seven times more likely to have a crash, estimates the UK road safety charity Brake. You’re much less able to coordinate your eye movements or control the steering wheel correctly when you’re tired. If you have to drive, stop every 2 hours for a break or a nap. If you feel drowsy, stop immediately and rest before resuming your journey.

Don’t Decide When You’re Sleep Deprived
Keep important money decisions for when you’ve had enough sleep. Lack of sleep can adversely affect the choices you might make the gaming table or when buying and selling high-risk stocks and shares. Research has shown that sleepy players and investors often feel compelled to keep going rather than sensible quitting when ahead. A study at Princeton University in America found sleep deprivation not only leads to excess production of the stress hormone corticosterone but also suppresses the action of cells in the hippocampus – the memory area. If you have to make important business decisions, make sure you’re well rested.

Work With Your Body To Fight Infection
Use the power of sleep if you’re ill or incubating an infection. When your body picks up an infection, such as the common cold virus, it sets to work to produce a molecule called interleukin-1. This stimulates your lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, to produce antibodies. The reason you fell sleepy when you have an infection is that interleukin-1 is also a sedative. So your immune system works to promote sleep, which will in turn help your immune system to do its job. If you’re battling a cold or flu, don’t fight drowsiness; your body will heal itself more quickly if you allow yourself to sleep.

Be A Sober Sleeper
Drink alcohol in moderation if you want a decent night’s sleep. Because it is sedative, alcohol helps, you get off to sleep but can interfere with the quality of your sleep throughout the night. It reduces the amount of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – the sleep during which you dream – which has been identified by sleep experts as essential for mental acuity. And when dreams do occur, the influence pf alcohol can turn them into disturbing nightmares. In addition, alcohol can make you wake up periodically, sweating heavily and feeling so restless that you then stay awake for a long time before going back to sleep. To achieve top quality, brain-boosting sleep, stick to non alcoholic beverages in the hours before bedtime.

Get More Marks For Memory
Try to get a full night’s sleep when studying for an extra exam or learning a new skill. Using MRI scans, researchers in the USA have discovered that during sleep some brain areas are more active than others. In students learning the piano, the cerebellum – the part of the brain involved with motor skills – was most active, but their limbic systems, which regulate anxiety and stress, were less active, resulting in better performance the following day. There is also evidence that the hippocampus, where memories are consolidated, is more active when you’re asleep. So instead of doing extra revision on practice, sometimes it’s better to get your head down and sleep.

Slumber To Stay Slim
If you want to keep your weight in check, get plenty pf sleep. In 16-years US study, it was found that women who slept for 5 hours or less a night were 32 per cent more likely to gain a significant amount of weight than those who slept for an average of 7 hours a night. The explanation for these is unclear, but it maybe because those who sleep more are more likely to burn more energy during the day through fidgeting and other minor movements. It also seems that those who sleep less may produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which stimulates hunger. Whatever the reason, getting enough sleep every night is a simple way to keep slim.

Let Them Lie In
Young people need plenty of sleep, so make sure they get enough. Sleep promotes the release of the growth hormone essential to their development. When pratical, they also need to sleep in later in the mornings. This is because their hormonal body clock is on a different schedule to that of adults. In older people the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin begins at around 10pm, but in teenagers it often doesn’t start until midnight, at about 1am. In the USA some schools have begun delaying the start of morning classes for this age group, with significant improvement in learning. It may be best to work with nature rather than try to figure it.

Sleep To Steady Your Blood Glucose
Lack of sleep over weeks and months can severely reduce the body’s capacity to utilize insulin to process sugar, which can lead to symptoms Type 2 diabetes and, in some cases, increase the risk of developing the disease itself. In tests carried out on young adults deprived of sleep for six days these adverse effects were quickly reversed following 12 hours of sleep, but for older people with chronic sleep loss the changes are not so easily countered. To reduce your risk of diabetes try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep most nights.

Nap A Bright Idea
If you feel like a daytime nap, it could be good for your creative juices. Research has shown that 30 per cent of office workers have their best ideas when they’re asleep rather than on the desks. Research has shown that our surreal. Dream sequences can sometimes produce real solutions to problems. People who work from home can easily try these technique for boosting creativity and a few forward-thinking employers have installed ‘napasiums’ for sanctioned creative napping in the workplace.

Avoid Cheese – If It Gives You Nightmares
The old wives’ tale is true – eating cheese at night really can give you nightmares. Cheese contains the amino acid tyramine, which is involved in the production of adrenaline, a stress hormone. Excess levels of this hormone may in turn raise blood pressure, which is associated with nightmares. Other foods that contain tyramine and may disturb sleep include cured meats, fermented soya products, bread bean and chocolate.

Learn To Control Your Dreams
Lucid dreaming, a state of being awake within a dream and being able to direct its outcome, has been found to help people suffering from posttraumatic stress but can be helpful to anyone. You will be benefit from the calming effects of being able to fly around your house, take yourself to a restful seashore or imagine sitting in a beautiful garden. Try imagining a dream you want to resume as you fall asleep or training yourself to return to a dream as you are waking up.

Record Your Dreams
Keep a dream diary to help resolve problems that may be troubling you. Recording your dreams allows you to focus on difficulties, many of which may be a long term or release to your childhood. There is mounting evidence that of you have experienced divorce, bereavement or separation, the nightmares that follow can actually help you come to terms with your loss. Dreams help you visualise what is going on in your life and let you find ways of dealing with problems by harnessing past experiences. To help you use your dreams:
~ Keep a notebook and pen beside the bed and write down your dream as soon as you wake up in the morning.
~ Avoid recording dreams in the middle of the night as this will interrupt your sleep.
~ Record the detail, including colours if they appear, and any feelings you had.
~ Leave space opposite each entry for any analysis you may wish to add.
~ Review the previous night’s dreams before you get to bed.

Catch Up On Your Sleep
Contrary to perceived wisdom, it is perfectly possible to make up a deficit or sleep according to a study at the University Pennsylvania School of Medicine in the USA. Healthy sleepers who normally slept between 6.5 and 8.5 hours a night and who were neither shift workers not a long-haul travelers were only allowed 4 hour sleep for 5 nights in a row. Following tests, their alertness and ability to concentrate were found to be reduced. They were then allowed to sleep as long as they liked and were tested again, by which time their brain function had returned to normal.

Don’t Oversleep
As you get older, sleeping too much can be as harmful as sleeping too little. Sleep specialists in Spain found that older adults who sleep to excess increase their risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. In their study of over-65s, the volunteer who displayed dementia symptoms tended to sleep for 9 or more hours in every 24. By the time they are 65, most people get a maximum of 7 hours. Even if doesn’t cause dementia, sleeping too much can effect life expectancy. In a large American study, women who slept 9 to 11 hours a night were 3 per cent more likely to have coronary heart disease than those who slept 8 hours.