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To celebrate healthy sleep and help others learn about sleep’s vast importance, World Sleep Society hosts an annual awareness day in March, World Sleep Day.

World Sleep Day is held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox of each year. 

World Sleep Day 2021
 

World Sleep Day 2021 is on 19th March. The slogan is ‘Regular Sleep, Healthy Future'. Having a good night’s sleep is important for brain function, muscle repair, and metabolism. So, even if you exercise daily and maintain a balanced diet, if your sleep is poor you may struggle to achieve your desired results. Likewise, if your mindset, diet, and exercise are compromised this can have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep. 

How to improve your sleep by changing your eating & drinking habits.

The relationship between nutrition and sleep is far from being completely clarified. However, the available scientific evidence supports a few tips that can improve your sleep:

 

1.) Cut down on coffee and caffeinated products (soft drinks, tea, chocolate); and restrict them to the morning. Caffeine has stimulating effects and can make it difficult to fall asleep. For those who can sleep after a cup of coffee, it can lead to reduced sleep duration, more awakenings, reduced deep sleep, and worsened subjective sleep quality. Caffeine doses equivalent to two 8oz cups of coffee in the morning have been shown to reduce deep sleep at night.

2.) Reduce or eliminate alcoholic beverages before bedtime. Although alcohol has sedative properties and can make you sleep more quickly, it comes at a high cost. In the second half of the night, you are more likely to experience increased sleep disruption with more awakenings and less deep sleep, which can make you feel less refreshed in the morning. Alcohol can also give rise to or worsen obstructive sleep apnea and reduce your oxygen levels at night.

3.) Swap out sugary and starchy foods, for vegetables and fruits. A high glycemic index diet, which is associated with foods with high amount of simple carbohydrates such as potatoes, white rice and white bread, can quickly increase blood sugar. Although high glycemic meals were shown to help healthy volunteers fall asleep in experimental conditions higher intakes of dietary added sugars, starch, and nonwhole/refined grains have been associated with a higher risk of developing insomnia over time. By contrast, higher nonjuice fruit and vegetable intakes were significantly associated with lower chances of developing insomnia.

4.) Eat more fiber and less saturated fats. Avoid food choices with high amount of saturated fat (butter, red meat, chicken skin, whole dairy products) and focus on eating more fibers. An experimental study has found that higher percentage of energy from saturated fat was associated with more arousals and less deep sleep, while greater fiber intake was associated with more deep sleep.

5.) Avoid heavy meals prior to bedtime. Eating a large amount before bed can delay your sleep onset time and cause more awakenings. On the other hand, significant food restriction can cause more difficulty falling asleep and reduce the amount of deep sleep.

By Dr. Carvalho, Center for Sleep Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Published in the World Sleep Society’s Jan/Feb 2021 edition of Healthier Sleep magazine.
 

World Sleep Society created what they call the 10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults back in 2008 and they still hold true today. Follow these 10 Tips for Better Sleep from World Sleep Society.

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How much sleep do we really need?

If you are a teenager or young adult you may be surprised. It is recommended that teenagers (14-17) sleep between 8-10 hours, however it may be appropriate for them to sleep as much as 11 hours. Young adults (18-25) are recommended to sleep 7-9 hours however, it also may be appropriate for this age group to sleep 11 hours. Older adults (26-64) are also recommended to sleep 7-9 hours, however it may be appropriate for this group to sleep 10 hours.
 

If you are not waking up refreshed or regularly feel tired and sleepy during the day (or when you should be awake and alert) it is helpful to see how you respond to different amounts of sleep. Try sleeping an extra hour or more each night for at least two weeks. If you do not feel any better see your doctor as soon as possible. Information about your day to day activities including sleep habits can help your doctor identify the underlying cause/s. The National Sleep Foundation (USA) has a great sleep diary you can use to track your sleep and daily activities. Click here to check it out. 

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World Sleep Day 2020

World Sleep Day 2020 (March 13th) will incorporate the slogan, ‘Better Sleep, Better Life, Better Planet,’ highlighting sleep’s important place as a pillar of health, allowing for better decision making and cognitive understanding in even big issues, such as our planet. This focus is purposefully broad in meaning, surrounding the message that quality of life can be improved with healthy sleep. Conversely, when sleep fails, health declines, decreasing quality of life. Sound sleep is a treasured function. World Sleep Society has compiled ten tips for healthier sleep. See these tips above.

 

World Sleep Day 2019
March 15, 2019. The slogan: “Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging.”
“Getting good quality and quantity of sleep is one key to aging well, improving the odds of physical, cognitive and emotional health. Getting good sleep in young adulthood and middle age reduces the risk of obesity and hypertension, protects against age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s Disease, and has been associated with decreased rates of depression. In some studies, regular sleep has even been associated with fewer signs of aging in facial skin and better tissue tone. Look better, feel better, be better. There is a lot to be said for giving good quality sleep a high priority in our daily lives.”- Dr Timothy I. Morgenthaler, MD is a Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine.

Sleep hygiene. How do those two words translate into a great night’s sleep? 

“Good sleep hygiene means making sleep a priority and following daily routines that allow you to do so,” explains Liborio Parrino, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology at Parma University, Italy and chair of the 2018 World Sleep Day Committee. “Simply put, good sleep habits can cause good sleep quality. And studies have shown quality of sleep is even more important that quantity of sleep.”

World Sleep Day 2018

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was jointly awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young for their “discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm”.

This Nobel Prize is an exciting acknowledgment of sleep research that will hopefully lead to answers for those living with circadian rhythm sleep disorders. To honour this great achievement the slogan of World Sleep Day 2018 is ‘Join the Sleep World, Preserve Your Rhythms to Enjoy Life’. The goal is to raise awareness of the importance of circadian rhythms in healthy sleep.

What is the circadian rhythm and why is it important to preserve regular circadian rhythms?

Circadian rhythms refer to a cycle within the body. Our circadian control genes that create cellular oscillations affecting cell function, division and growth, along with critical physiological functions such as behavior, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature, immune responses and metabolism. When these rhythms are disrupted, we see increased rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression and many other diseases.

 

The circadian rhythm plays such an integral part in sleep health. Preserving regular circadian rhythms have been found to lower the risk of sleep disorders, mental health disorders and chronic health issues. Sound sleep is one of the three pillars of good health along with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Individuals who get an entire night’s sleep without any interruptions experience lower rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other chronic illnesses.
 

For more information about the Circadian Rhythm and Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders:

Watch a fascinating video from the BBC “How body clocks rule our lives”

Circadian Rhythms from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

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