By Morgan Nwanguma
Experts have long emphasised the importance of sleep and ‘rest’ to the human system. It is agreed among health scientists that the human system requires about eight hours of sleep within a whole day in order to maintain a healthy body, a balanced mental state, and general wellbeing. It is a proven fact that inadequate sleep contributes in no small measure towards many forms of health debility or malfunction. Some of the health problems that can be caused by lack of good sleep or insomnia are such as – reduced immune system, rapid or premature ageing, headaches, high blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease.
On the other hand, adequate sleep that ensures a well rested body and mind condition will enable the following specific health benefits: You will have a normal blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, a happier you, and radiating youthfulness. Adequate sleep also helps you to maintain a reasonable stress level as well as an immune system boost and mental alertness, etc.
Luckily too nature is richly endowed with ways through which you can get back your health by the enablement of proper and adequate sleep routine. Also, there are life style behaviours that are absolutely necessary to achieving these same results.
- You should take lots of bananas: bananas contain lots of potassium and VitaminB6 which is needed to produce melatonin – a sleep inducing hormone that is triggered by darkness.
- Yoghourt which is sometimes referred to as curd, is very helpful in your bid to try and get enough good sleep. Curd can also be massaged into the head at the same time – it will help induce sleep and take care of your insomnia. Sounds strange, isn’t it?
- Fish is also very good for you if you are trying to get good sleep. The reason is that most fish, especially salmon, tuna, halibut, etc, also contain a good quantity of Vitamin B6 which induces sleep. This B vitamin is that which is essential for the metabolism of amino acids and starch.
- Make a night cap of a glass of warm milk; milk like order dairy foods contain tryptophan, a substance which promotes sleep in the individual.
- Honey can have a somewhat hypnotic effect on you; you should take honey to treat insomnia by mixing two teaspoonfuls in a full glass of water – preferably warm, before bed time.
- Take light snacks of carbohydrate-rich foods such as crackers (biscuits) and the like including cereals, just before you go to bed. This has a way of inducing sleep. But I will emphasise, – do not abuse the privilege as heavy meals will always go to disrupt your sleep due to digestive problems.
- Exercise: This very point is one that has not been fully exploited but recent researches have confirmed that exercise is able to make you sleep better. Experts say although the exact mechanisms are not well known, but the fact remains that studies have shown that exercise significantly improves the sleep of people with chronic insomnia! According to National Sleep Foundation, USA, Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia.
In addition to the above helpful tips that will enable you attract sleep, there are also other behavioural patterns you need to adopt by way of avoidance, for the encouragement of healthy sleep:
- Avoid caffeine and caffeinated beverages and substances because caffeine is a stimulant and therefore highly averse to your getting a sound sleep. Some of these beverages and substances will include stuffs like – coffee, cola drinks, kola nuts, tea, and chocolate. You must avoid these or at worst, take them if you must at least four to six hours before bedtime.
- In this category also include another set of avoidable substances. These are medications with hidden caffeine contents such as analgesics or painkillers, diuretics, and some slimming pills.
- Avoid the regular nightcap (alcohol), or if you must, be sure to have it at least four to six hours before bedtime if you really value your sleep and health.
- Also, be careful not to engage in the consumption of heavy spicy foods just before retiring to bed. If you do, blame yourself for a horrible night rest.
- The same goes for protein rich foods because they are harder to digest as compared to other forms of food. Digestive process will disturb your sleep.
- In the first place, smoking has never been good for anything, so equally stay away completely from it if you must enjoy sleep and good health especially during bed time. Smoke contains nicotine – another form of stimulant, and just like caffeine, it will arrest your sleep and leave you vulnerable.
- And lastly, if you do not want your sleep consistently interrupted at night by having to get up to go ease yourself, be sure to avoid fluid or water intake at least a couple of hours before retiring to bed. Otherwise, you know your sleep cannot be sound and fulfilling with all that interruptions.