Day­time ac­tions af­fect how you sleep

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Dr Libby Weaver is New Zealand’s favourite well­be­ing ex­pert, a seven times No 1 best-sell­ing au­thor and a highly sought af­ter in­ter­na­tional key­note speaker. Now, each week, she’ll be an­swer­ing read­ers’ ques­tions about their health and fit­ness. If you want to join the con­ver­sa­tion with Dr Libby, see the end of this ar­ti­cle for de­tails of how.

Restora­tive sleep is an es­sen­tial pil­lar to good health and there are a few things you can do to help get a rest­ful night’s sleep.

The first is to elim­i­nate caf­feine (cof­fee, en­ergy drinks and choco­late) from your diet for a four week trial, and no­tice the dif­fer­ence this makes.

Caf­feine can stay in your sys­tem for up to eight hours and can af­fect your abil­ity to fall asleep.

If you do have caf­feine, en­joy it in small amounts early in the day.

The sec­ond thing to try is to have a con­sis­tent bed­time rou­tine.

Wak­ing up and go­ing to bed at the same time each night al­lows your body to set an in­ter­nal time that no­ti­fies your body about when to start to pre­pare for sleep.

En­joy calm ac­tiv­i­ties, like read­ing or restora­tive yoga, be­fore bed.

Dim the lights, and limit back-lit de­vices like iPads and smartphones for up to two hours be­fore bed.

Light af­fects the body’s abil­ity to make the hor­mones nec­es­sary for sleep, such as me­la­tonin.

Some peo­ple find herbal teas very ef­fec­tive. Try a lovely, fresh chamomile tea in the evening.

A com­bi­na­tion of stress hor­mones, caf­feine and a blood sugar roller-coaster is of­ten to blame in this sit­u­a­tion.

Adrenalin is a stress hor­mone, which is pro­duced when we per­ceive that we are in a stress­ful or ur­gent sit­u­a­tion, or when we con­sume caf­feine.

The pro­duc­tion of adrenalin trig­gers the re­lease of glu- cose into the blood to help fuel us to get away from the sup­posed dan­ger we are in.

How­ever, for many peo­ple to­day their stress is per­ceived – they are not in fact be­ing chased – so this glu­cose is un­used and is then stored as fat.

This whole process can leave us feel­ing tired and reach­ing for the clos­est car­bo­hy­drate-laden food to sat­isfy the crav­ing for the sug­ars we have just used up. This can hap­pen through­out the day and cause highs and lows in blood glu­cose lev­els.

With a view to pre­vent­ing the crav­ing for sugar in the af­ter­noon, the first step is to take a break from the daily cof­fee, and re­place it with herbal tea.

A good break­fast in the morn­ing con­tain­ing real food fat will also help to sat­isfy and fuel you through the morn­ing, and then it is im­por­tant to keep re­fu­elling with real food choices through­out the day to en­sure you main­tain even blood glu­cose lev­els.

Many peo­ple find that they are less likely to reach for sweet food in the af­ter­noon if they have a source of whole­food fat at lunch time. Nuts, seeds, av­o­cado, co­conut, or­ganic but­ter, oily fish, and pas­ture-fed an­i­mal meats are all great real food sources of fat.

Try adding them to lunch, or use the plant-based fats in sweet snacks that serve your health, such as brain balls (see the recipe at dr­libby.com/ recipes/Brain_Balls).

If you’re hav­ing a rough night’s sleep, you should look at what you’re do­ing dur­ing the day.

Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to ask.dr­libby@ fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz. Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional.

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