Sleep patterns of humans have changed over a period of time. Hunter gatherers were sleeping and waking several times in a day and night but with the arrival of artificial light, sleep patterns have changed. Now, people have reduced periods of sleep at night. Mathew P Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley feels that sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body.
Both the macro level structure of sleep, such as sleep duration and sleep stages and the microlevel architecture of sleep, including the quantity and quality of sleep oscillations, change as we progress into our old age. Do older adults simply need less sleep, or rather, are they unable to generate the sleep that they still need? Sometimes, when sleep disturbances or sleeplessness continues for long, it can cause stress, anxiety and other mental or physical problems, and a consultation with a specialist is required. With the advice of a specialist, sleep enhancers can be tried for a short-term to get good sleep.
These medicines are more often required in patients with nocturnal sleep fears, terror or panic attacks. Sleeping pills or tranquillisers should not be used regularly as their effect is reduced and can lead to addiction. But there are many natural ways by which we can ensure that we get the required sleep – whether for seven or eight hours at a stretch or what is called ‘forty winks’, taking naps to recharge mind and body.
There are several kinds of foods which are known to promote good sleep. Certain foods which help us to sleep better can be taken at bed time or at dinner. These foods are protein-rich foods containing an amino acid called tryptophan which converts to sleep, inducing brain substance serotonin which stimulates the production of sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.
These foods are termed as sleep promoters by Russell Rosenberg, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, USA. Sleep promoting foods contain one or several of these substances – calcium, magnesium, tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids.
1 Walnuts: Walnuts are a rich source of tryptophan and also contain a small amount of natural melatonin, so they help you fall asleep fast. Walnuts also contain ALA, omega 3 fatty acids which convert into DHA that helps promote production of serotonin which is a sleep-enhancing substance.
2 Almonds: They contain plenty of magnesium which has a sleep promoting effect essential for sleep. Almonds also contain the sleep-regulating hormone, melatonin. Daily consumption of almonds also improves quality of sleep.
3 Cherry: Cherries or cherry juice if taken at bed time helps one to fall asleep fast as cherries are a rich source of melatonin.
4 Chamomile Tea: It is a herbal tea which contains antioxidants specially apigenin which helps in sleep induction. Chamomile tea also reduces anxiety and depression which leads to sound sleep.
(To be continued)
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