Are you getting enough sleep?

Napping CatLike food and water, sleep is one of the most important things that the body needs, yet many people do not get enough of it. There are many factors that can be sited as the cause for people getting less sleep: increased usage of technology, eating and drinking before bed, or disrupted sleep patterns due to smoking, drinking, pets or small children.

Caitlin Kirkland, from The Synaptic Scoop blog, explains that as a society we are “socially jet lagged.” She defines social jet lag as “the difference between sleep patterns on work days and free days. These inconsistent sleeping habits result in sleep loss that is similar of flying west across several time zones every Friday evening and traveling back East come Monday morning. Furthermore, social jet lag might not sound like a big deal…but the chronic misalignment between our social and biological clocks is wreaking havoc on our health.”

Harvard professor Charles Czeisler and a panel of experts reviewed more than 300 studies published over a 10 year period from 2004 to 2014 to get a better understanding of the amount of hours that most people need to maintain their health at different stages of their life. The following are their recommendations:

Age Group Recommended hours of sleep needed
Newborns (0-3 months) 14-17 hours
Infants (4-11 months) 12-15 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years) 11-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years) 10-13 hours
Children(6-13 years) 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17 years) 8-10 hours
Young Adults (18-25 years) 7-9 hours
Adults (26-64 years) 7-9 hours
Seniors (65+ years) 7-8 hours

While studies show that some food and drinks can actually help you fall asleep, there are definitely some that should be avoided. Cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, which is a hormone produced by your body that is considered a sleep aid. Alcohol, on the other hand, should be avoided since it metabolizes in your system quickly, which can cause you to wake up frequently. Caffeine is another stimulant that shouldn’t be consumed before bed for obvious reasons…so that means no coffee, energy drinks, or dark chocolate. Spicy foods and those high in fat and protein are also going to be counterproductive if eaten close to bedtime. Your body ends up focusing more on digestion rather than sleeping.

Do you have a certain food or tea that helps you fall asleep better? Please let us know if the comments section.

In addition to a nutritionally balanced diet, sleep is just as important in living a healthy lifestyle. Allow Fresh ‘N Fit Cuisine to remove some of the stress of meal planning from your life so you can focus on doing more of the things you enjoy while getting an adequate amount of rest when you’re done playing.

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