A good night's sleep has become somewhat of an indulgence in today's fast-paced world. It’s often on the bottom of our list of priorities behind work, chores, social time, and entertainment. Sleep, however, should not be a luxury. Proper rest and sleep are as important to good health as good nutrition and adequate exercise.
Without proper amounts of rest and sleep, our ability to concentrate, make judgments and participate in daily activities decrease and irritability increases.
So why do we sleep?
We know sleep is necessary to:
Maintain critical body functions;
Repair muscle tissue; and
Allow the brain to process new information.
Sleep is a cyclical physiological process. The sleep-wake cyclical rhythm known as ‘the Circadian Rhythm’ regulates physiological functions and behavioural responses such as body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, hormone secretion as well as sensory acuity and mood. Our Circadian Rhythm is affected by light, temperature, work schedules and social activities.
This “biological clock” also synchronizes our sleep cycle and is individual to each person. Different people function best at different times of the day and need different amounts of sleep to feel their best.
Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the risk for serious health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. It can also affect your immune system, reducing your body's ability to fight off infections and diseases.
Think of a sleep-deprived body as a car with a flat tire. The car is running, but it’s moving slowly with less power. The longer you drive in that condition, the more you'll damage the car. And in the end the car will stop moving altogether.
Food for sleep:
The nutrients we need for good sleep are Tryptophan, Taurine and Magnesium.
Tryptophan can be found in turkey, chicken, brown rice, nuts, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, pumpkin seeds and almonds. For sources of Taurine, eat your seafood, meat, eggs and dairy. For Magnesium – nuts and seeds, spinach, soybeans, black beans, broccoli and whole grain cereal.
So go to bed a bit earlier tonight - it is crucial to your physical and mental health.
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