I know very well that the matter of sleep concerns everyone at some point in life, and so I decided to talk to you about it and tell you why I think it is very important to get enough sleep and to give ourselves the opportunity to rest properly! You must have observed yourselves that when you sleep less or for some reason you do not sleep properly (e.g. you may wake up during the night) your body but also your brain in some way “slow down”. The fact that you feel more tired or can’t think clearly does not mean that there is a health problem…It can simply mean that you are sleep deprived! For this reason, instead of wondering why you feel that way, just start sleeping more… How much more? Scientists suggest that we sleep 7 to 9 hours a day so that we can become as efficient as possible on a daily basis – this, of course, changes depending on the age, the daily activity, but also on many other factors.
Shall we see what would be good to avoid and, generally, what we should be careful of if we want an improved sleep quality?
What to avoid…
1. Limit technology. I’m sure most of you watch a movie or a TV show, work or check your emails on your computer, chat with a friend on your mobile phone before you go to bed. I know it is a bit difficult for you to cut down on everything all the sudden. However, it would be good to limit them as much as possible, at least one hour before sleeping, since this habit seems to reduce both the quantity and the quality of sleep.
2. Avoid consuming coffee or caffeine tea in the evening. As you understand, it is not by accident that we drink coffee in the morning, since most of us need an extra energy boost and “something” to wake us up in the early hours. If you tend to drink a beverage at night, simply make sure that it is caffeine-free, because it’s a given that it will affect your sleep’s quality!
3. Avoid consuming fatty foods and sugar in the evening. You should prefer a light meal for dinner, like a yogurt, a glass of milk, but also a salad. Fatty foods or junk foods can cause gastrointestinal disorders or several disturbances which will affect your sleep. Moreover, consuming a meal high in sugars can increase the energy levels and instead of wanting to go to bed, you may finally decide to go out for a walk or even work out!!!
Let's now see what you can you do to improve your sleep.
1. Work out. Exercise and physical activity help in sleeping better and in having an improved sleep quality, which means to sleep continuously without interruptions and practically having a deeper sleep. That’s what the latest studies show; so, start working out and make any kind of physical activity part of your daily life. The World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of medium intensity workout per week. Ideally, you should not do that in the evening since there are also studies showing that working out late at night can distract you and you probably won’t be able to fall asleep easily. Of course, you should experiment a little and see what works best for your body!
2. Improve your diet! There are foods that will help your body release melatonin and serotonin (that is, the hormones that put us to sleep). According to studies, the foods that seem to affect the release of the above hormones are nuts and seeds, fish like salmon, turkey and chicken, legumes, mushrooms, cereals, cherries and cherry juice. Do you think it’s time to change your diet a little, for better sleep quality?
3. Change your sleeping position! According to specialists, the best position to sleep and rest properly is on the side, since it seems to put the least pressure on the spine and in this position, the respiratory system works best.
So? Are you ready to make the above changes? Even if you can’t make them all happen at once, simply try to change some of your habits and I believe that you’ll see plenty of differences. Now, if you have another more specific problem, consult your doctor since sleeping well plays a very important role in the body’s proper function and in our mood as well!
This article was written in collaboration with Kitchen Lab’s Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.