solve your sleep problems

Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations to Solve Your Sleep Problems

In case you’re not already familiar with the statistics, roughly one in three Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. Many who are sleep deprived point to common problems as the cause of their insomnia. citing issues such as snoring, nightmares and acid reflux as reasons for their restlessness. But how do you put an end to these seemingly small, yet stifling, sleep problems?

The answer could be your daily diet. “Food provides the nutrients needed for the production of neurotransmitters that regulate sleep,” says Dr. Ana Krieger, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill-Cornell Medicine.

Listed are the six easy dietary do’s that will help solve your sleep problems:

1. Balance your plate to avoid nightmares.

Consuming a balanced meal of proteins, fats and carbs will help stabilize blood sugar levels ahead of bedtime, says Maya Bach, a licensed dietitian nutritionist, and owner at River North Nutrition in Chicago. This stability will help prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar that can disrupt your energy levels and mood. A dip in blood sugar at night can cause nightmares and other odd bedtime behavior, like crying out in your sleep.

2. Pair protein with carbs to fall asleep faster.

Proteins like turkey, roasted soybeans and milk are high in levels of an essential amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is a key component of serotonin, a chemical that promotes relaxation when it’s released in the brain.

Pairing proteins high in tryptophan with a starchy carb or whole grain may help prime the body for sleep, Bach says “The surge in your blood sugar after eating carbs stimulates tryptophan’s sleep-inducing properties in the brain,” she says.

3. Curb snoring by staying hydrated.

Snoring affects a whopping 90 million American adults. In some cases, dehydration may be the culprit behind snoring, according to Georgia Giannopoulos, dietitian and manager of Be Healthy, an employee-focused health program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. To help prevent this, she recommends being mindful of your hydration throughout the day (try downloading an app to help). You can also keep a glass of water at your bedside as a reminder to start hydrating when you wake up in the morning.

4. Skip the booze to sleep soundly.

Drinking alcohol may make you feel drowsy at first, but research suggests you may end up with lower quality sleep overall. “In some cultures, alcoholic drinks are commonly used to facilitate sleep,” says Dr. Krieger. “[But] alcohol intake close to bedtime has several downsides; it acts as a muscle relaxant that worsens snoring and may trigger sleep apnea, and also leads to a chemical disruption of sleep.”

5. Eat a light dinner to avoid acid reflux.

Try paring down for your final meal of the day, Bach says. “Consuming less food later in the day may help reduce bloating, discomfort and possible acid reflux some of us experience when we consume too much food at one meal,” she says. Avoid spicy, acidic foods and instead opt for low-acidic foods before bedtime, like lean proteins such as baked chicken and poached fish, and green veggies like broccoli and asparagus.

6. Keep a food diary to find hidden offenders.

Because not all bellies are created equal — what works for the majority may not work for you — tracking what you eat could solve your food/sleep related mysteries. “If someone has a pattern of difficulty sleeping, keeping a food and sleep diary may be beneficial in helping spot if certain foods are affecting sleep,” Giannopoulos says. Hint: This includes caffeine!

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Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations to Solve Your Sleep Problems

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snoring partner

Sleep Woes – How to Cope and Deal with a Snoring Partner

Snoring is one of the most common complaints we hear from spouses and partners that live together. It can cause sleep problems not only for snorers, but for everyone around them as well. Fortunately, snoring is not a hopeless case.

Before we talk about ways to cope and deal with a snoring partner, we must first acknowledge that snoring is often an indication of sleep apnea. This life-threatening condition is associated with a snoring pattern that includes moments where breathing and snoring stop until the sleeper is jolted back to semi-wakefulness and the pattern starts again.  If your partner is a snorer, direct them to our Sleep Health Assessment so that they can understand their sleep disorder risk level and get help.

Here are steps you can take to cope with and handle a snoring partner:

1. Make Sure You Are Sleeping On A High Quality Mattress

You may be surprised to know that sleeping on a low quality mattress can actually be the cause of your partner’s snoring! If your mattress is old and sags in the middle, this will affect the position of your partner’s neck when they are asleep, blocking their airway in the throat. Once you’ve got a nice, high quality mattress, remember to raise your bed up by about four inches. Doing this will help keep throat tissues and the tongue from plugging up your partner’s airway, greatly reducing the chances of them snoring throughout the night.  This is one way to cope with a snoring partner.

2. A Weighty Issue

Unfortunately, snoring tends to be more prevalent in those who are overweight as they tend to have bulky throat tissue. If your snoring partner is above their ideal weight, this could be one of the reasons they are keeping you up at night. The good news, however, is that this is completely reversible. Encourage your snoring partner to adopt a healthy eating and exercise plan in order to shed the excess kilos.

3. Stay Away From The Booze

Do you ever notice that your partner’s snoring gets even worse after a night out to the bar? This is because alcohol relaxes the muscles around the throat, making everything, well, floppier. The floppier muscles are around the airway, the greater the constriction for air to flow through. Avoiding alcohol in the evening or prior to bedtime can often lead to a much more peaceful night’s sleep for both you and your partner.

4. Where There Is Smoke, There Is a Snoring Partner

Smoking can cause or worsen a bad case of snoring. Cigarette smoke has the ability to swells the mucous membranes of the throat. In addition to this, it limits your oxygen intake to the lungs. If that is not bad enough, smoking can also cause blockages to form in the nose and throat. All of these are factors that can lead directly to snoring. If your partner is a smoker, encourage them to quit the habit, or purchase them nicotine patches as an alternative to smoking cigarettes.

5. Stay Well Hydrated

Many people are unaware to the fact that being dehydrated can actually cause one to snore at night. Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you’re dehydrated, which can directly cause a person to snore more. Healthy women should guzzle down about 2.5 litres of total water (both from all drinks and food) a day; whilst men require about 4 litres of water a day.

Sleep Woes – How to Cope and Deal with a Snoring Partner

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benefits of napping

Benefits of Napping – Afternoon Naps Help Improve Emotional and Mental Health

In a Wall Street Journal infographic, entitled “How to Take the Perfect Nap,” researcher suggests the most useful nap depends on what the napper needs.

Contrary to popular belief, the perfect nap doesn’t need to be long — but it must be consistent, quick, and in the dark. The power nap (10 to 20 minutes) is ideal for a boost in focus and productivity, according to a 2012 study. Researchers found the 10-minute nap produced immediate improvements in sleep latency, sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance. The 20-minute nap, however, produced improvements 35 minutes after napping, and lasting up to 125 minutes.

Although it may be tempting to stay asleep, a 30-minute nap can lead to sleep inertia, or the feeling of grogginess and disorientation that comes when waking up. A 2015 study found sleeping for up to 30 minutes can reverse the hormonal impact of a poor night’s sleep. Researchers claim their study is the first to find napping could be used to restore biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health back to what’s considered normal.

Napping for more than 90 minutes usually goes through ever sleep stage, including REM and deep, slow-wave sleep, which helps to clear the mind, improve memory recall, and restore lost sleep. Interestingly, naps that include a full sleep cycle limit sleep inertia and make it easier for us to wake up.

Remember, napping later in the day can interfere with us falling asleep at night, and disrupt our body clock. So nap responsibly.

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Benefits of Napping – Afternoon Naps Help Improve Emotional and Mental Health

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how to put kids to sleep

How to Put Kids to Sleep Without Medication

About 70 per cent of children have trouble sleeping and almost one-third of those are medicated by their parents to help them, according to a new study by the Canadian Paediatric Society.

The parents were asked about their children’s sleep problems and whether they medicate them for it.

“It’s pretty high, 70 per cent,” said Wendy Hall, a nursing professor and a University of British Columbia researcher.

What is alarming for Hall is that 30 per cent of the parents reported that they were medicating their children with over-the-counter melatonin or Tylenol.

Common Mistakes

Hall has studied child sleep for over a decade and says most parents won’t need to look to medication for help, they just need to practice good sleep hygiene with their children.

She says some common mistakes parents make are:

1. Putting the child to sleep somewhere and then moving them

“That can cause the children to wake up during the night fully, if they come into a light sleep state because that is not where they went to bed,” she said.

2. Not having regular sleep routines

Children who have trouble sleeping often don’t have regular sleep routines.

Hall says the same sleep routines should be used for naps as well.

3. Not sleeping by 9:00 p.m.

She says it’s important that the latest a child goes to bed is 9:00 p.m.

4. Bottles right before bedtime.

Hall says parents shouldn’t give children a bottle right before bedtime.

“Because then children associate feeding and sleeping and can end up waking themselves up in the middle of the night,” she said.

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How to Put Kids to Sleep Without Medication

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good sleep position

A Good Sleep Position that Can Lower the Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

We already know that sleeping on your side is, broadly speaking, very good for you. It clears the airwaves and helps you breathe, allowing for a potentially better night’s sleep. It can help with back and posture problems. It offers safety against sleep apnea.

But now there’s a far more vital reason to consider rolling over: sleeping on your side could benefit your brain health.

A new study by Stony Brook University reveals that this side position, a.k.a. “lateral position”, is the most effective in removing the brain’s waste products, which we naturally build up over the course of the day. It is believed that sleep is our body’s way of getting rid of this waste.

Even other animals seem to naturally prefer this position – including rodents used in the study.

“It is interesting that the lateral sleep position is already the most popular in human and most animals – even in the wild,” said research co-author Maiken Nedergaard, “and it appears that we have adapted the lateral sleep position to most efficiently clear our brain of the metabolic waste products that built up while we are awake”.

“The study therefore adds further support to the concept that sleep subserves a distinct biological function of sleep and that is to ‘clean up’ the mess that accumulates while we are awake”.

“Many types of dementia are linked to sleep disturbances, including difficulties in falling asleep… It is increasingly acknowledged that these sleep disturbances may accelerate memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease”.

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A Good Sleep Position that Can Lower the Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

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