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Why proper sleep is important to boost immunity

The COVID-19 has ensured that we take care of not just our diet. We are now particular about everything including how much sleep is needed to ensure that our immunity is high.

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Photo by We-Vibe Toys on Unsplash

Did you ever wonder why you tend to sleep longer when you are ill? Did you know that we sleep in sleep cycles — light sleep and deep sleep? Did you know how important deep sleep is to the immune system?

Stages 3 and 4 – the first 3-4 hours of our sleep that you experience the longest period of deep sleep. During deep sleep you experience very low brain waves called theta and delta brain waves.

The blood vessels dilate and are usually stored in the organs throughout the day. It moves into the muscles to nourish and repair them. The immune system activates during deep sleep to fight disease. This is why people tend to sleep longer when ill.

Poor sleep pattern

When you don’t take proper care of the inner sleeping system, you are at risk of poor sleep. Poor sleep happens for a variety of reasons. The main reason is the inability or the difficulty of obtaining proper amounts of deep sleep.

It’s common for people who travel across time zones to get ill very quickly. The blame is put on jet lag. This happens because of the body’s natural body temperature rhythm being out of alignment.

Jet lag creates a disruption of deep sleep, added with the stress of travel, this is a perfect mixture for lowering one’s immune system.

Most people live without being aware of all the actions they’re taking in their lives that are detrimental to the sleeping system. Fortunately, there are simple methods to take proper care of your inner sleep system.

Foods to eat

What you eat can affect how you sleep. In order to get a good night’s rest, it is essential to choose foods that calm your mind and body. Certain foods will promote rest and relaxation. Let’s take a look at them.

Tryptophan

It is a precursor of other neurotransmitters in your brain, including serotonin and melatonin. Eating foods that are rich in tryptophan will help you feel relaxed and sleepy.

Foods like turkey, hummus, lentils and kelp are high in tryptophan. They also contain nutrients that provide a host of other health benefits. Bananas not only contain tryptophan, but also potassium and magnesium, which are natural muscle relaxants. Fresh and dried cherries are also one of the only natural food sources of melatonin.

Carbohydrates

Foods that are rich in starchy, high-glycemic carbohydrates promote better sleep. They stimulate the release of insulin and tryptophan. Foods like jasmine rice, potatoes, carrots, corn, puffed cereal, and honey are some of the healthiest choices of simple carbohydrates.

Calcium

It helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. Certain combinations like whole-grain cereal with milk, a peanut butter sandwich, or crackers with cheese contain both carbohydrates and calcium that work together to relax the mind and body. Calcium itself is so beneficial in helping you sleep. This is because it has natural muscle relaxants and helps you manage stress levels.

Timing

Eating the above-mentioned foods calms the nervous system and triggers a sleep-inducing hormonal response. But timing is everything. Eating a large meal too late or eating right before bedtime can have the opposite effect and keep you up at night. It is best to eat these foods later in the day or at least one hour before bedtime.

Foods to avoid

Fast food!  Too much food!  The type of food! Eating too late!  These are all a strict no-no. This is because they have one thing in common – eating the wrong food, too much food, or too late at night can wreak havoc with your sleep.

If you eat too large a meal, too late at night, you can almost be guaranteed you’ll wake up mid-night feeling indigestion. Eating smaller portions in the early evening is the best option. It is best to eat the main meal somewhere between noon and 2 pm.

We have all heard the adage – eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Ensure that your evening meal is the lightest. It is easier on your digestion process.  Eating the bigger meal midday, gives an opportunity for you to digest it while you work the rest of the day.

But pay heed — don’t go to bed hungry.  Hunger pangs in the middle of the night can wake you up.  It is important to eat your meals on a set schedule to help establish balance.  Eating at fixed times helps to set your body’s biological clock.

So, the question is — what to eat?  Make a note of foods that when you have sleep challenges.  Some of the common food sensitivities are: Wheat, dairy products, corn, and chocolate.

It is thought that with intolerance, the brain releases histamines. The histamines upset biochemistry causing restlessness, irritation, and inattentiveness in the day, and insomnia at night.

A good example is that wheat can cause gastric pain and bloat – no doubt two side effects that will keep you awake (and in pain) during the night.

If you suspect that this may be one of your insomnia contributors, begin an elimination diet to find out what and who is the culprit.  In the above example, cut out everything containing wheat.  When all wheat is eliminated, if this is a contributing factor, your sleep will begin to improve.

The same rule applies when it comes to drinks. But we know what drinks to avoid at night to get a good sleep. We all know that eliminating or drastically reducing caffeine consumption can help sleep better.

A few cups of coffee in the morning can affect sleep at night.  Caffeine has a long half-life so it should be drunk early in the morning.  Definitely don’t drink any caffeine-laced beverages close to bedtime.

It’s not just coffee and cola-type drinks that can cause sleep disturbance. Several over-the-counter medications can also result in sleep-challenged nights.

No-no at night

Tea, Coffee, Colas, Alcohol

Spicy foods

Chocolate

Drugs with caffeine

Refined carbohydrates – like cookies, pastries, donuts, sweetbreads

Preservatives

Foods likely to cause gas/bloating, like beans, cucumbers, fatty/spicy foods

Foods really high in protein, like beef, can inhibit sleep by blocking the synthesis of serotonin, which in turn makes us feel more alert.

MSG (monosodium glutamate, often found in oriental food.

Yes-yes at night

  • Bread, bagels and whole wheat crackers, brown rice – high in complex carbohydrates.  They increase serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.
  • Mushrooms
  • Fruit – lemons, figs, dates, bananas, grapefruit

Legumes

Fish or poultry.  Turkey is high in tryptophan, which promotes sleep.

Warm milk with honey is still one of the best remedies for insomnia.  Milk contains tryptophan, which converts to serotonin, inducing sleep.

Remember, if you want to fall asleep more easily at night and wake up refreshed, eat a small complex carbohydrate snack and avoid protein-rich foods at least an hour before bedtime.

Avoid eating meals that have too many ingredients. Try sticking to the new or modified food and meal routine for at least two to four weeks to evaluate whether this improves your sleep habits.

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Lifestyle

6 indoor plants and their upkeep

While almost all green plants can be kept indoors, some plants need more attention than others. Here best indoor plants for home in India.

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best indoor plants for home in india
Source: @Safer Brand

While almost all green plants can be kept indoors, some plants need more attention than others which can be cumbersome if you have a busy schedule. But that doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with greenery. Let’s look at some best indoor plants for a home in India.

Rubber tree plant

It is fairly easy to maintain but is fussy when it comes to the amount of water it needs. Here is what you need to know if you have this plant. Rubber plants are rainforest specimens. While they need consistent moistness, they don’t want it to be soggy. Ensure that the pot the plant is in has adequate draining holes.

Use a dish under the pot lined with pebbles to catch extra water. This will keep the roots from sitting in water but provide the humidity as the water evaporates.

Croton plant

Its beautifully patterned leaves can brighten any space. Now that the rains are here in full force, it is important to ensure that you take care of all your plants. Overwatering can lead to root rot. An important thing to keep in mind is that the pot is well-drained. There is moisture in the air, overwatering will harm the plant. Croton also needs at least six to seven hours of sunshine but excess heat will damage its leaves. Try and keep the plant either East or West facing to make sure that the leaves don’t lose their colour.

English Ivy

It looks pretty and while it may look like it is an easy plant to look after, it is not the case. Like any other plant, this plant too will rot and its leaves will turn brown if you overwater them. Before you water it, check the soil. If it is moist, don’t water it. Make sure that the soil is loose and is kept in a well-drained pot. The plant grows in bright light but it is away from direct sunlight. It is a beautiful plan that can be kept inside the home; potting it in a hanging basket is an excellent way to enjoy the beauty of this plant.

Fern

The delicate curled leaves that unfurl into long, lacy fronds look pretty. Go into the forest and you will find ferns carpeting the floor. They also make a great houseplant. They can grow in any kind of pot — clay to hanging baskets to ceramic and don’t require full sun to thrive.

But Indian weather is different. A plant that may live happily in any other environment needs a lot of care here. They love moisture. During the rainy season make sure you don’t overwater the plant or the roots will rot. You can even spray water on the leaves to lock the moisture in. You can keep this plant in the bathroom or even the kitchen.

Green Aralia

One of the most important things to keep in mind if you have a green aralia is that it has to be kept away from cold drafts and windows during the winter months to ensure that it thrives. It needs a feed once every other month during the spring. During the summer months, the plant needs liquid fertiliser. However, be careful if you buy this plant; it is mildly toxic to humans and pets. Ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

They are best as landscape plants. While watering aralia which is indoors, deep water is only when the soil is nearly dry. One of the most important things to keep in mind if you have a green aralia is that it has to be kept away from cold drafts and windows during the winter months to ensure that it thrives.

Pitcher plant

It is not always possible to ensure that the plant that you bring is going to live. Hence, it is important to take care of it properly. Let’s take the pitcher plant. So how does one take care of it if one wants to keep it indoors even if it is a carnivorous plant?

Depending on the species, some require full sunlight and those that originate in the floor of the rainforest may need filtered light. It requires moist soil, and keeps the potting soil moist, but not soggy. Allow the pot to drain thoroughly after watering and never let the pot stand in water or the roots will rot.

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Lifestyle

Mother’s Day 2022: Significance, history, and importance

Being a mother is a full-time job and gets no appreciation-one day where their worth is truly appreciated. Here’swhy we celebrate mothers day.

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why we celebrate mothers day
Source: @TOI

Most of us know that Mother’s Day is celebrated every second Sunday in May. But did you know why we celebrate mothers day? The whole idea behind Mother’s Day is to honour the mother of the family, to celebrate motherhood, maternal bonds, and the important role that they play in shaping society.

Why we celebrate mothers day?

It is said that the need to celebrate this day arose in the 1900s. Back then a daughter – Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis – to honour the sacrifices made by the mothers made for their children started this holiday.

It is said that Jarvis organized the first Mother’s Day service of worship and celebration at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, the US which serves as the International Mother’s Day Shrine today.

Did you also know that different countries celebrate this day in different months? Some countries celebrate this day in March. Mother’s Day in Egypt is celebrated on March 21, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. In Georgia Mother’s Day is celebrated on March 3.

In some countries, the date is adopted to signify religion, like Virgin Mary Day in Catholic countries. Other countries selected a date with historical significance. For example, Bolivia’s Mother’s Day is a fixed date, commemorating a battle in which women participated to defend their children. Or in Russia where it is celebrated as International Women’s Day instead of Mother’s Day.

In India, the concept of celebrating Mother’s Day is new. This could be because we have traditionally been respectful of our mothers and have been revering them for generations.

We didn’t need to set a single day aside for them. But then, we (Indians) tend to ape the West and what the West does needs to be done back home.

Irrespective of how and when Mother’s Day is celebrated worldwide, children go out of their way to make this a special day for their mother. Lunches, treats and gifts are part and parcel of this day’s celebration.

What can you do? Here are some mothers day 2022 gift ideas

For the foodie mom

If your mother is a foodie a last-minute gift can be a meal subscription box that speaks to your mom’s interests. The subscription boxes are becoming popular across India as they select the finest and latest products every month and ship them across to their clients.

As a gift, you can opt for ingredients, or complete meals, including gourmet food and global cuisine. Innovative subscription boxes share recipes and exquisitely packaged boxes that can be used as a collector’s item.

If your mother is all about fitness

If your mom has been looking to shed some weight, a gym membership is a great gift! There are several gyms in each city that offer membership. This would help your mother work.

If your mother is all about looking good

A woman’s body goes through many changes, and protein is quintessential to cope with it. One can gift herbal products to the mother for that perfect skin that will keep her young at heart forever!

 

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Lifestyle

5 health benefits of dancing, you might not want to miss

You see it on TV or in films. But did you know that the art form has several benefits of dance movement therapy as well? Read on

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benefits of dance movement therapy

Dance is the purest expression of emotion. World over, dancing has a different meaning for different people and cultures. But there is one thing that is common across the board — it is an expression of one’s emotions through movement. These movements are not always graceful or beautiful and most people don’t even understand them, it’s tough to see a perspective on one’s dance.

What Dance Symbolise:

But dancing is extremely therapeutic. Dance therapy can use various hand movements and creative expressions to promote socio-emotional, cognitive, and somatic integration.

This is based on the idea that the body and mind are inextricably linked. It aids in self-expression, resulting in a shift in an individual’s overall functioning.

One has to remember that dance movement therapy isn’t just for dancers, and it’s certainly not a dance class. A dance lesson emphasises style and form, whereas dance movement therapy does not. In the latter, people aren’t judged on how well they execute the steps or how they appear while dancing.

 

In dance movement therapy, people are encouraged to communicate their feelings and thoughts while moving during dance movement therapy sessions.

Dance treatments are used in a variety of settings, including health, education, and social services, in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

It may be recommended as a primary service or as a complement to other forms of ongoing treatment, rehabilitation or education. The therapy can be short- or long-term. Engaging an individual does not require any dance skills or training just the willingness to move. The focus is on the therapeutic process.

Here’s how it can help

Help differently-abled

Dance therapy can help individuals, with different abilities, capacities and life conditions since it works with their bodies at that particular phase of life.

Benefit kids with autism, ADHD

People with developmental, medical, social, physical, and psychological problems benefit from dance movement therapy.

It has been used to assist persons with learning impairments, and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, and ADHD, among others.

Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, mood and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, mobility disorders, sensory processing disorders, trauma, and even violence prevention are just some of the conditions that can be treated.

Dance movement therapy can help those who are battling communication challenges, body image issues, chronic pain, and adjustment issues.

Communication tool

As language is not a barrier to movement, it can be used in individual, couple, family, and group therapy forms with people of different ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds.

Leads to self-awareness

Self-awareness, self-perception, confidence, producing a sense of peace, relational talents, and mindfulness are all benefits of dance therapy. It has been shown to reduce pressure, anxiety, and nerves, as well as feelings of disengagement and body strain.

Faster recovery

Dance movement aids in the learning of how to transform nonverbal movements into insights that can be applied to one’s recovery process.

Each one of us can move, each one of us has a movement language — we call it body language. All of us can dance! The idea of this therapy is getting aware of your body, feeling, accepting, and working on yourself.

People in dance movement therapy are not required to start dancing as soon as the music starts, unlike in a dance class. It’s all about the journey, not the destination!

Disclaimer: The idea of this article is to create awareness and is not meant to be followed without a doctor’s proper advice.

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