Do you stay awake at bedtime or do you feel hungry at odd hours or do you struggle to wake up in the morning and feel less alert, just because you didn’t have a good night sleep? Sleep regulates many metabolic processes in our body. There is a central clock in our brain which is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). SCN dictates when to feel alert, feel tired and hungry so when our SCN is working well, we are active and energetic throughout the day and when it isn't working well it works the opposite. Our sleep regulates the circadian rhythm of the body- the way our organs function. This rhythm gets pushed in a bright light every morning at dawn but constant use of gadgets expose us to this light and keeps us awake even after sunset. Research shows that sleep regulates the way our body synthesis cholesterol, weight, detox, blood sugars, digestion and many other body functions. Sleep is even essential for our memory. A single all night awakeness can cause an increase in accumulation of beta amyloid substance which can lead to development of Alzheimer's disease, in critical brain areas. The only way our internal body clock works is through regular meals and sleep and this is how our body understands it is day or if it is night. If we restrict sleep we start to crave unhealthy foods like sugars. When we sleep less, it increases our hunger hormone ghrelin, it also suppresses our hormone leptin, which tells us we are full. Sleeping less increases our cortisol hormone which makes us gain belly fat. About 7 hours of good sleep at night helps in recovery. A good quality sleep protects our immune system. Our immune cells called CD8 cells attack viruses, bacteria and foreigh invaders and keep our immunity strong. So, when we sleep less, it interferes with our immunity by interfering in activities of CD8 cells. However, some people experience sleep apnoea- now it is questionable whether excess weight causes sleep apnoea or sleep apnea causes obesity . Weight gain, lack of sleep adds to acidity and reflux. Sleeping less can make an individual eat 600 calories extra per day. So, how can we sleep better?
To our rescue, comes Melatonin. Melatonin is secreted when it is dark and as soon as the sun rises it turns off. This hormone is responsible for our sleep. So, start transitions like sleep an hour early, switch off your phones and lights, and meditate or chant before going to bed. Some electronic devices have a night shift, turn it on and shift blue light to yellow light at night.. You can also buy anti blue light glasses. Bananas, fresh orange juice, pineapple juices, boosts melatonin levels instantly in our body. Cranberries are one of the richest fruits with melatonin but most of the cranberries we get are flavoured cranberries in the form of juice or coated with sulphur which is of no health benefit anyway.. Just 2 pistas are enough to boost melatonin. 1 gm pista without shell gives 0.2 mg of melatonin and 0.3 mg of melatonin is enough for sleep. Eating pistas ( 2 pistas ) 3 hours before bedtime will help in sleep. A cup of chamomile tea also helps in relaxing and gives a sound sleep. Some bedtime stretches like child pose, forward bend or rolling head and neck. Add nutmeg powder in milk. If you have severe sleep issues or a sleeping disorder like insomnia- you need to seek professional help.