The Importance of a Good Night's Sleep
THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP
The amount of time Australians spend asleep has been dropping for years.
Census figures report we get an average of 8.5 hours, whilst diaries from
the Victorian era show adults slept for as many as 10 hours a night.
WHY DO WE NEED SLEEP?
We need sleep to repair and grow, consolidate memory, build a healthy
immune system and to combat the build up of damaging free radicals in
the brain. Lack of sleep contributes to anxietyand depression, high blood
pressure, increased risk of heart disease, insulin resistance, diabetes,
obesity, weight gain and dementia. Even short term sleep deprivation
increases our susceptibility to colds and flus, and delays wound healing.
Put simply, sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing.
WHAT MAKES US SLEEP?
Sleep is initiated by a neurotransmitter called GABA, which is released through
the action of melatonin. Melatonin is produced from the amino acid tryptophan,
with the: help of the nutrients magnesium, zinc, folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12.
Its release is increased by darkness and reduced by bright light, so it increases at night
and drops off during the day. Interestingly, studies have shown melatonin levels are
lower at the time of the full moon, meaning that we may sleep slightly less and that
our sleep is less restorative at this time.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU WANT MORE?
Let's look at some diet and lifestyle solutions first. To ensure your melatonin .
levels are optimal you need to make sure you are exposed to bright sunlight in the
morning hours and avoid bright lights such as television and computer screens before
bed. It is also important to make sure you. have adequate intake of the 'ingredients'
to make melatonin. These are tryptophan, from high quality protein, and Magnesium,
zinc and B vitamins from whole-grains.
Some products that may be of use to help you get those Zzzzzz's