Sleep-and-health are essential parts of a healthy, productive life in retirement. Being deprived of sleep is harmful to healthy retirement and can be a symptom of other health problems. A chronic lack of sleep disrupts the body’s endocrine system, which regulates body functions such as appetite and blood sugar. The glands of the endocrine system and the hormones that they release influence every cell, organ, and function of our bodies.
Studies indicate that sleeping less than seven hours per night increases the chance of becoming obese and being overweight can cause sleep disorders. Women who sleep five hours or less per night have an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease, which is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.
Sleep deprivation is a serious matter that should be discussed with your medical practitioner. Take notes on your sleeping pattern and be prepared to discuss with your physician. You can ask your physician for sleeping medications for occasional sleeping problems but the underlying problem affecting your sleep-and-health needs to be determined and corrected.
Sleep-and-health is affected by what we eat. Some foods help us sleep while others have the opposite effected. Foods that help us sleep contain tryptophan, the amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin and helps the body make melatonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that slows down nerve traffics so that your brain is less busy. Did you ever wonder why you get sleepy right after a traditional turkey dinner? Was it because you ate too much or because turkey is a great source of tryptophan?
You would also do well to avoid junk food, especially in the evening. Junk sugars trigger insulin. After the insulin effect wears off, blood sugar levels drop off sharply. This triggers the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol, which stimulate the blood sugar. This makes you ready for a marathon but not a decent night’s sleep. Also avoid junk food containing artificial food additives, such as MSG and aspartame. These additives seem to interfere with normal melatonin production, which can lead to poor quality sleep.
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