Monday, March 3, 2008


Sleep Deprivation and Fat Gain
The quality of sleep has an enormous impact on daily life, since poor or disordered sleep can affect your work, concentration, and ability to interact with others. During sleep, both physical and mental restoration take place, allowing you to feel fresh and alert in the morning.
Sleep needs vary from one person to another; the optimal average is 7 to 9 hours. You can judge whether or not you’re getting the right amount by how you feel the next day- too much or too little sleep leave a person feeling tired and irritable. Because growth hormones are released during sleep, babies, children, and adolescents require more sleep than adults do.
Sleep researchers discount the common myth that older people require less sleep; instead, the amount of sleep that an adult needs remains fairly constant. With advancing age, however, the nature of sleep changes and the incidence of sleep often lessens with age, and an older person is likely to awaken more frequently during the night.

This is still not fully understood, but scientists know that a person’s circadian rhythm is established shortly after birth and is then maintained as a “body clock”. Some natural chemicals in the body enhance sleep, and diet plays a part. Here are some things that are known to affect sleep:
· Eating too much or too little can disrupt sleep. A light snack at bedtime can promote sleep, but too much food can cause digestive discomfort that leads to wakefulness.
· Alcohol is a double-edged sword. Small amounts of alcohol can help you fall asleep. However, as the body metabolizes the alcohol, sleep may become fragmented. Alcohol can worsen insomnia and also impair rapid eye movement (REM) sleep the time when the body is in its restorative phase.
· Caffeine can disturb sleep. Any food or beverage that contains caffeine can disturb sleep, although this is not true for everyone. Research has shown that older adults who suffer from insomnia report higher caffeine intakes. If you are sensitive to caffeine, avoid it in the afternoon and evening.
· Forget the fat. If you consume a high-fat meal in the evening or eat foods that you have found cause you indigestion and heartburn, your sleep can be disturbed and restless.
· Do not eat late at night. People who suffer from heartburn or acid reflux should avoid late, heavy meals that delay the emptying of the stomach.
· Drinking fluids too close to bedtime can cause problems. Avoid fluids after dinner to reduce the need to go to the bathroom during the night.
· Milk and honey promote sleep. Milk contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is among the natural dietary sleep inducers. Tryptophan works by increasing the amount of serotonin, a natural sedative, in the brain.

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