An essential and much under rated component of a healthy lifestyle is SLEEP. With the fast pace of today’s society, it can be the first component removed from our daily routine. Not getting enough sleep can lead to daytime drowsiness, but more importantly, it can result in more serious health problems and cause you to become irritable, anxious, difficulty concentrating, and difficult regulating moods. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that chronic sleep deprivation can negatively impact the overall quality of a person’s life. The CDC also reported that insomnia may contribute to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
It is recommended that the average person achieve 6-9 hours of sleep per night. Without the right amount of sleep, your body can not be efficient at performing daily tasks that keep your healthy. The immune system becomes compromised, which increases your chances of catching a cold or the flu. Insomnia may also increase your heart rate and blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease.
Many Americans have difficulties with sleep. Studies now indicate a connection between sleep problems and depression. Research shows that more than 80% of those suffering from depression experience insomnia or some type of sleep disturbance. The psychological symptoms of sleep deprivation include: mood swings, irritability, impatience, anxiety, depression, fatigue, decreased alertness, impaired memory, and impaired judgment. To increase the amount of sleep you get each night, there are several behaviors/patterns you can incorporate into your daily routine to improve your sleep hygiene, including improving your nutrition.
Nutrition, exercise, and sleep can play a vital role in managing and preventing depression. So often people who feel stressed, fatigued, and mentally “down” are under-exercised, malnourished, and under-rested. Time spent investing in your physical health is a wise investment. When you give your body the proper elements, it can run efficient and accurately, much like a car running on high grade fuel.
An important and vital relationship exists between nutrition and depression. Nutrition can be play a major role in the onset, severity, and duration of depression. Many of the same eating patterns that occur prior to a depressive state are the same eating patterns that occur during depressive state. Patterns may include skipping meals, poor or decreased appetite, and a desire for sweets. Extremely low carbohydrate diets also put individuals at the risk of feeling depressed because tryptophan and serotonin are the brain chemicals that promote a feeling of well-being, and are triggered by consuming carbohydrate rich foods.
Vitamin deficiencies can be more prevalent among depressed individuals. Vitamin deficiencies linked to depression include vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate deficiency. Folic acid deficiency can cause personality change and depression. As we age Vitamin B12 may not be absorbed as easily and at just marginally low levels, a deficiency can contribute to depression and memory problems.
To improve your quality of sleep, I recommend trying the following behaviors that promote good sleep hygiene!
- Decrease stimulus in your home at least 1 hour before going to bed
- Use the bedroom for sleep only.
- Avoid consuming a heavy meal right before bedtime. Recommend consuming a snack if you are hungry before bed. Avoid going to bed too full or too hungry. Avoid sleeping when you're hungry or right after you've had a big meal
- Exercising regularly to improve your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and improve quality of sleep. Preferably exercise in the morning or early afternoon. Avoid exercising within 3 hours of bedtime.
- Avoid consuming caffeine after lunch, such as cola, coffee or tea
- Avoid drinking alcohol within 6 hours of bedtime. Although alcohol is a depressant and may induce sleep at first, it can easily be disrupted.
- Keeping a regular scheduled bedtime and waking time. Plan to allow for 8 hours of sleep per night
- Avoid smoking a cigarette before bedtime
- Creating a comfortable environment that is conducive to sleep by eliminating uncomfortable bedding, wearing loose clothing, keeping the bedroom temperature slightly cool, and eliminating any bothersome noise or light
- Eat at least three meals a day, including breakfast.
- Try to replace refined sugars with fruit and whole grain carbohydrates.
- Stay Hydrated! Drink at least eight 8oz glasses per day
- Incorporate plenty of leafy greens for folic acid
- Eat bananas, avocado, chicken, greens, and whole grains for Vitamin B6
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for the NutriFocus family that you have personally found helpful in improving your quality and quantity of sleep?! If so please share by leaving a comment below!