Sleepy Driving Is As Impairing As Drunk Driving

27 09 2011

“One complete night of sleep deprivation is as impairing in simulated driving tests as a legally intoxicating blood-alcohol level.” Are you having trouble sleeping? So are 60 million other Americans.  Any amount of sleep deprivation will diminish mental performance, cautions Mark Mahowald, a professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

That’s scary to think about considering if there are 60 million Americans who are having trouble sleeping and a third of them are driving on our byways and highways at any given time. Research has also shown that chronic sleep deprivation will result in serious health issues. At the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting in June 2001, Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D., reported that people who regularly do not get enough sleep can become less sensitive to insulin. “This increases their risk for diabetes and high blood pressure – both serious threats to the brain”.For an example, sleep Deprivation can:

  • Weaken your immune system
  • Cause symptoms of attention deficient disorder (ADD) especially in children
  • Impair memory
  • Cause hallucinations
  • Drastically Impair physical and mental performance
  • Increase tumor growth (studies have shown that tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with sleep deprivation
  • Mental disorders and depression
  • Augment heart disease
  • Aggravate stomach ulcers
  • Age a person prematurely
  • Increased risk for diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Three times greater chance of dying from any cause

The good news is there are many natural products and safe ways to ensure a good night’s sleep once again! Throw away the sleeping pills and do this instead to help you sleep.

Get Your Daily Magnesium

Studies have shown that being deficient in magnesium can cause sleep disturbances throughout the night as well as insomnia. The best way to get your daily dose of magnesium is through whole foods. Eating foods high in magnesium will relax your nerves and muscles, build and strengthen bones, keep your blood circulating, and help you get good nights sleep.

Foods with the highest amounts of magnesium are: raw pumpkin seeds, steamed spinach and swiss chard, raw sunflower seeds, Chinook salmon, raw sesame seeds, baked or broiled halibut, blackstrap molasses, dried figs, artichokes, buckwheat, oat bran, almonds, cooked black beans and navy beans.

Lack of Exercise and Sleepless Nights

Have you ever had restless leg syndrome while you’re trying to go to sleep? You might toss and turn for hours but your fidgety legs are keeping you awake. People who work behind a desk for most of the day are more prone to have a restless night. The body has to get energy out and if that’s not happening through exercise you will lose sleep over it. Studies have shown that people who exercise consistently have less sleepless nights.

For some people exercising at least four times a week will help them combat insomnia. You want a tired body when going to bed at night, not one that is roaring like a lion at 2am.  Researchers at the Stanford University of Medicine studied the effects of exercise on adults aged fifty-five to seventy-five who were sedentary and troubled by insomnia. They were asked to exercise for twenty to thirty minutes every other day in the afternoon by walking, engaging in low-impact aerobics, and riding a stationary bicycle. The conclusion showed positive results. The time required to fall asleep was reduced by half, and sleep time increased by almost one hour.

Do you have a favorite exercise but can’t seem to find the time? If so, it’s time to find the time and start being more active, it will really help with restlessness at bedtime. The hardest part about starting a new exercise regime is the ambition to get started. Once you get into a schedule you’ll feel so good that you will never want to skip a routine again. Exercise, coupled with increasing magnesium in your diet is sure to bring on positive sleep patterns for you. Don’t forget about brisk walking. Get yourself a buddy and begin a brisk walking routine. Walking every day is surely going to help with those restless legs at night.

Self Expression Releases Emotions and Stress

Does this sound familiar? Many times you go to bed with too much on your mind. You have this and that to take care of and nothing is getting done. Your mind is running in overtime. You feel overwhelmed and stressed out and its bed time. No wonder you can’t fall asleep! All the worrying and emotional stress is bogging you down.  Here’s the best remedy for dealing with an overwhelmed brain. Write!

Every night before bed get your journal out by writing everything off your mind. This really works! Make lists of what needs done and then prioritize. Then if you are emotionally stressed get that out too through self expression. Write, write and write some more! If you’re angry with someone or if you feel resentment over something that happened to you write about it—get it off your chest.

Don’t worry no one has to see your journal, its private between you and God. Self expression releases pent up negative emotions as well as anger. Writing out our thoughts helps us to release our emotions and get them out of our brain so we can actually fall asleep. Plus, it helps us to be more productive the next day because it releases those negativities from our mind that were bogging us down.  Don’t worry, be grateful and you will get a good night’s sleep!

Eat Fish and Sleep Better?

Omega 3 fats are the good fats and are essential to a healthy body. Fish oil is the best way to get your omega 3 fatty acids. Doctors worldwide recommend we eat fish oil daily to ensure a healthy body and to get a good night’s rest. Not all fish have abundance of omega 3’s however, so choosing a fatty fish is the first step. Fish with the most omega 3 fatty acids are salmon, tuna, herring, trout, sardines, and halibut. Atlantic, Coho, and Sockeye salmon are more abundant in omega 3’s. Eating fish twice a week will ensure you are getting the proper amount of omega fats in your diet.

Bad Diet Can Cause Restlessness and insomnia

What is a bad diet? A bad diet is one that is deficient in raw foods and whole foods but high in refined foods. The worse culprits are refined sugar and flour products. These two foods are the body’s worse enemies. Between the two they can literally wreck havoc within your physical, emotional and mental state causing all kinds of health ailments, not to mention nightmares and restless sleep.

Eating a diet high in refined sugars and carbohydrates will trigger restlessness throughout the night called the “fight or flight” reaction, which causes wakefulness. Keeping blood sugar levels regulated is important in sleeping well at night. Going to bed after eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars will negatively influence how you feel the next day. You may toss and turn throughout the night, not really going into a deep sleep, and this is why you may feel tired and groggy the next day.  

Foods that help you sleep at night and can be eaten a few hours before bedtime are oatmeal, whole grains (if you are not gluten intolerant), cottage cheese, turkey, chicken, eggs, and nuts, especially almonds.  These foods encourage sleep because they are high in the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin and melatonin, which are natural sleep-inducing compounds.

Lower Cortisol Levels for a Good Night’s Sleep

The hormone cortisol can deprive you of sleep. Cortisol is secreted during times of stress, danger, and fear. The good news is this hormone can be completely managed by you. Exercise and omega 3 fatty acids both reduce the levels of cortisol in your brain and help you to be tired at bedtime. Remember do not do any strenuous exercise right before going to bed. Walking on the treadmill or stationary bike is about as taxing as you want to get before bedtime.

The bottom line is if you are stressed out or emotionally distraught before going to bed, it will raise the levels of cortisol in your body and you won’t be able to go to sleep or you will wake up in the middle of the night not able to go back to sleep. De-stress yourself through exercise, diet, and self expression and it will help you to sleep soundly through the night.




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