Don't let your sleep get shorter as summer days get longer
Summer is a time of abundance, everything from fresh vegetables in your garden to long hours of sunshine.
The abundance of sunshine will provide our bodies with vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin", which supports healthy bones, our immune system and our nervous system. But the long hours of daylight affect people in other ways, such as limiting hours of sleep.
During the summer, I like to wake up early and take a walk while viewing the beautiful sunrise. I also like to stay up late and sit on my porch, relaxing as the sun sets behind the mountains.
There are about 15 hours of daylight between sunrise and sunset during June and July in
How much sleep do we need? A 2009 Japanese study determined that seven hours of sleep is optimal to aid in the prevention of chronic disease.
In 2010, a meta-analysis - a statistical review of several similar studies - included over one million people and determined that somewhere between six and eight hours is the optimum for physical and mental health.
What you eat and drink can affect your quality of sleep. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and will definitely affect sleep patterns. Many studies have shown caffeine should not be consumed after
What should we eat to help with sleep? Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that can help regulate sleep patterns. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps our body build protein and create the chemical known as serotonin. Studies have shown that these elements play a part in the quality of sleep. Melatonin can be found in many whole foods, such as sour cherries, red raspberries, almonds and goji berries.
Tryptophan can be found in oats, almonds, seeds and high protein foods. Whole grains, like whole wheat, have been shown to improve our ability to utilize tryptophan and aid in sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping or if you wake up feeling tired, you may want to try adjusting your diet. Avoid alcohol at all times and caffeine in the evenings. Eat five or six whole grain crackers or a handful of unsalted almonds about 30 minutes before bed. If you crave a late-night snack, try a small bowl of oatmeal topped with ground flaxseed, raspberries, sour cherries, almonds and/or pumpkin seeds.
Make sure you take the time to enjoy the beautiful