New research adds to the evidence for a link between sleep, memory, and brain function. Especially when it comes to daytime sleeping, or taking a nap. Many famous and intelligent people have been known for their daily naptime ritual. John Kennedy enjoyed his one to two hour afternoon siesta that continued during his time in the White House. JFK’s workdays were 12 hours long (or more) and he relied heavily on naps to keep him alert. He learnt the technique from his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, who took his cue from Churchill. Why does extra sleep help keep you alert? One theory says that the brain consolidates memories during slumber. We all know that we feel better after a good night sleep, ready to tackle the days problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, just one lost night of sleep can increase beta-amyloid levels in the brain. Beta-amyloid is a waste product in fluid between brain cells. The body should clear out the substance. But in Alzheimer’s disease it builds up to form plaque in the brain that hinders communication between brain cells. The body needs sleep every night to rid the brain of this waste. Those that experience poor sleep tend to have changes in their brain tissue in areas related to language and memory. Treating sleep disorders can
We all know the tryptophan and Thanksgiving turkey connection, but overloading on turkey is not the only natural way to help promote sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. It can’t be produced by our bodies, so we need to get it through our diet. From which foods, exactly? Turkey, of course, but also other meats, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, dairy products, eggs, chickpeas, peanuts, and a slew of other foods. Before you call the doctor and ask for an Ambien or Restoril for insomnia, consider adding these foods that promote natural sleeping to your diet. Natural sedatives offer a more restful sleep and don’t effect our circadian rhythm. (sleep/awake cycle) as sleeping pills. In addition to tryptophan, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin B help aid in production of turning serotonin into melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. As the sun sets, your body produces more melatonin and when you rise in the morning, melatonin levels taper off to allow you to wake up. Some people take melatonin to adjust the body’s internal clock. It is used for jet lag, for adjusting sleep-wake cycles in people whose daily work schedule changes, and for helping blind people establish a day and night cycle.