Our bodies require the right balance of sleep, energy, nutrients and water to maintain optimum health. If our sleep is out of sync it can have a knock-on effect on the other elements and have an effect on our overall health. So how can we ensure we are keeping a good balance?
It’s now understood that the best way to get a restorative night of sleep is consistency. This means going to sleep and waking up at the same time 7 days a week, aiming for around 7 ½ hours of sleep (or whatever amount at this level or more which allows you to wake up feeling refreshed).
With our 24/7 lifestyles and already hectic schedule it may not be possible to keep up a good enough sleep cycle. This is the perfect time to engage the body’s natural way of catching up on lost sleep, napping. Prehistorically we would have slept when we needed to. Around the world large parts of the Mediterranean, Tropics and Sub-tropics observe the ‘Siesta period’, which aligns with a natural daytime urge to sleep between 1pm and 3pm. This is determined by our Circadian Rhythm or Body Clock.
A short ‘power-nap’ is proven to help alertness, mood and performance. Aim for about 20 to 30 minutes to ensure you wake up after a period of ‘light sleep’. We sleep in 90 minute cycles of light, deep and REM (dream sleep). If you wake up later, for example after 60 minutes you are coming out of ‘deep sleep’, you can be left feeling disorientated and groggy. If you need longer than 20 to 30 minutes aim for 90 minutes which is a full sleep cycle.
Napping allows us to catch up lost sleep, reducing our ‘sleep debt’. It has two major benefits. Firstly your entire body, including your organs requires sleep to recover. So the more sleep you get the better health your organs will be in to do the important jobs they need to do to keep you healthy.
Secondly, losing sleep sends a signal to your body that you are potentially in a state of famine, and stimulates cravings for carbohydrates – the food group which provides us with energy. This can include sweet foods and carbs which are energy dense, rather than nutrient rich, and not especially healthy at all.
These carbohydrate-dense foods, including puddings, cakes, biscuits and chocolate can create sugar imbalances. The energy in the form of glucose is easily digested and gets into your bloodstream as a sugar high. This is then immediately followed by a sugar low, which results in you having cravings. To counter this, increase the amount of protein and vegetables you eat as snacks instead. Crudities including Hummus would be perfect.
A good choice for daily sugar lows is Gluco. Tactical use of Gluco in the afternoon can provide just the boost you need. Equally this boost will mean you are less likely to use coffee (caffeine) to keep you going throughout the afternoon.
Water and Gluco is a far better afternoon boost. Better still have Gluco with a detoxifying herbal tea such as Aniseed, Fennel, or Nettle or with Peppermint tea if you need to ease your stomach after overindulgence.
Finally, keep up your exercise for the year ahead as it both increases the flow of your immune system and improves the quality of your sleep.
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