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Dozy Days and Restless Nights
Dozy days and restless nights, how much sleep do you really need?
By Emma-lee Strachan, Naturopath
If you wake up feeling tired, you?re not alone. Almost a quarter of the population frequently experiences sleeping difficulties, and 16% of Britons regularly start the day feeling tired & un-refreshed. Unfortunately, as we age a good night?s sleep is often harder to come by.
Not only can a lack of sleep impact on your daily function by leaving you feeling moody and forgetful, it can also impact your long term health. Depression, anxiety, certain medications, lifestyle and even creature comforts such as the height of your pillow can impact on your quality of sleep.ÿ Whether you wake in the night or lie in bed for hours wishing you could doze off there are lots of simple steps you can take to ensure your sleep is as restful as possible.
|It is all too easy to overlook the effects that a poor night?s sleep can have: an increased need to nap, susceptibility to pain, reduced cognitive ability- including poor attention and memory, slowed response times, adverse affects on relationships, and a general sense of being unwell can all be associated with a poor night?s sleep. Even losing some sleep on one night can contribute to any of these symptoms. |
No one knows how much sleep is the ideal amount. It varies from person to person. The amount you require to be at your best is as individual as the amount of food you need. Anything between six and ten hours is considered normal for adults, but many people manage on less. Most adolescents need nine.
Experts tend to agree that most people need eight hours a day. Einstein believed he needed ten hour?s sleep a day. Generally you should wake up feeling refreshed and not feel sleepy during the day. You know better than anyone else what?s best for you.
What?s keeping you awake?
Many things can bring on a bout of insomnia, but the most common causes are worry, stress, anxiety, grief and depression. Insomnia can be due to physical problems, not just emotional ones, and there are also certain drugs such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, appetite suppressants and thyroid hormone replacements that can cause disturbed sleep patterns.ÿ To improve sleep patterns, the underlying cause of the sleep problems needs to be identified and addressed. However, on a daily basis, there are some simple measures you can take to help out.
Warm milk before bed
Most people have heard that a glass of warm milk before bed can help you to sleep. As it turns out, there is some science behind this, it is thought that milk along with certain other foods affects your brain chemistry to guarantee a good night?s sleep.
Neurotransmitters are molecules that regulate brain function. They are chemicals that relay messages from nerve to nerve, both within the brain and outside of the brain. They also relay messages from nerve to muscle, lungs, and intestinal tracts. Neurotransmitters are used all over the body to transmit information and signals. ÿThese chemicals affect your sleep wake cycle.
Norepinephrine, is a second stress neurotransmitter. It is released in response to perceived danger. High levels of this hormone are seen in states of anxiety and insomnia.
Serotonin, the sleep saviour master neurotransmitter, is made by our bodies from the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin is found throughout the body, and is necessary to modulate the levels of stress hormones. Serotonin is a precursor of melanin, the hormone that is released at night, when the body is asleep. for the conversion of serotonin to melanin to take place, levels of norepinephrine need to drop. If there are persistently high levels of norepinephrine, as in states of chronic anxiety, this conversion will not take place and this can lead to insomnia.
Foods to EAT to positively affect your sleep chemistry
Increase your intake of tryptophan, which is mainly found in high protein foods. The following foods containing trytophan, are good to eat with the evening meal or as an evening snack: Dates, yogurt, turkey, bananas, legumes, tuna, milk and nut butters.
Foods that negatively affect your sleep chemistry
Avoid all stimulants, particularly caffeine, which is found in coffee, chocolate, cocoa, black and green tea and some soft drinks. Caffeine makes the body think is it under stress and this has a negative impact on your sleep patterns.
Foods containing tyramine increase the release of norepinephrine which negatively impacts your sleep patterns. For this reason: aubergine, tomatoes, sugar, bacon, sausage, spinach, potatoes, cheese and ham are best avoided in the evenings.
Some herbs can help to deal with the causes of insomnia. Certain herbs may be helpful to alleviate stress and anxiety during the day and some may be used at night for their sedative effect or to help any muscle pain that may be keeping you awake. This is why when using herbs to help you sleep, finding out the cause of your sleep problems will be really helpful. For best results you should always ask a naturopath or herbalist for advice.
Exercise is one of the best defences against insomnia. Exercise increases the amplitude of daily rhythms and tells the body to promote deeper sleep cycles to help replenish the muscle tissues from physical exertion.
Temperature control - Our bodies need time to produce enough sleep neurotransmitters to allow you to sleep, lowering room temperature sends a feedback signal to the brain?s sleep centre, that it is night time, and that it needs to release more sleep hormones.
- Which is the best oil for hair growth and thickness?Thank you Emiliano for your comment. In this blog we are referring more to oils, more so than butters and while we agree with you Shea is an excellent emollient for hair, it's consistency is more buttery and it is used more as a leave-in remedy to smooth hair texture. We have suggested Coconut oil as it helps slow down hair loss by penetrating deep into your hair shaft to prevent protein loss, which in turn prevents breakage. When applied to your scalp, it simultaneously moisturises and removes build-up around your hair follicles to encourage hair growth and is one of base oils always used in Ayurveda for hair treatments. As this post is more focused for hair and not for skin, the comedogenic scale applies to skin/pores and not hair follicles. Thank you again for your feedback.
- Which is the best oil for hair growth and thickness?Hello Zu, yes hair loss can be very stressful and this in turn amplifies the cause almost.. Perhaps with Covid, your system may have been depleted of nutrients and fighting the virus can take its toll on your immune system, so sometimes our hair and skin suffer when we have been ill. We really believe in oils for scalp massage as the best way to revive the growth and help regenerate the follicles. It may be also worth at looking at internal supplements and making sure you are getting enough of omega oils, perhaps plant based such as nuts and seeds in your diet. For external oil treatment, would recommend the Really Good Hair oil which we create with Brahmi, this herb is known to help bring the scalp back to health and improve growth. Biotin is also a good vitamin to take as a supplement to help with hair growth so do look into that. So hope these tips will be helpful for you.
- Which is the best oil for hair growth and thickness?I, am very surprised that your article did not include Organic Shea Butter and that coconut oil, is your number one choice for hair growth and thickness. According to the comedogenic scale, coconut oil, has a rating of (4), on a scale from (0), to (5), on clogging your pores. Why would anyone put coconut oil, on their hair or skin knowing the pores will get clogged up. Shea Butter, on the other hand has a (0), rating on the comedogenic scale, which is great for dry hair and skin and won't clog up your pores.
- Which is the best oil for hair growth and thickness?Thank you for your very informative article. I suffered COVID in December, 2020, and in February I started experience extreme hair loss and all my hair jus falls like a person who is under going Chemo therapy. It's very depressing. Had to cut off all my hair and even the little that is left is falling off daily not sure what to do. Please suggest something.
- Carrot Oil for Face Hello :) You can use carrot oil only in small drops on your skin in the morning/during the day since it is highly potent. Carrot oil is rich in vitamins and is a very effective moisturiser. You can also mix a few drops of Carrot Oil with your favorite face cream. You can do that at least twice a week or include it in your daily skincare routine. Hope this helps.
- Carrot Oil for Face Can I use the carrot oil in the day time? Because I am using Vitamin c serum in the night. Please advise. Thanks