Food and Health

All You Need To Know About Sleep and Your Health

Sleep is a necessity and not a luxury. Sleep plays a vital role in learning, good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety (National Institute of Health). A major reason why you need to know all about sleep.

What is sleep? 

It is a condition of body and mind which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.

Sleep Positions and Their Health Benefits

There are three main types of sleeping positions with variables of each: side, back, and stomach. Sleep specialists recommend sleeping on your side in order to rest more comfortably and decrease likelihood of interrupted sleep. Below are the sleep positions and their health benefits:

1. Fetus Position

They are also called fetus sleeper. 41% of the human population sleeps in this curled manner.

Health benefit

  • It’s a good sleeping style for pregnant women only as it helps to increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and the baby (especially when you sleep on your left side)

Demerits

  • It is bad for the spine.
  • It restricts the movement of the diaphragm. Hence, you don’t breathe well or deeply as you should.

2. Log Position

Study shows that 15% of people sleep in this manner. That means,  they sleep with their side and arms down.

Health benefits

  • Keeps the spine naturally aligned.
  • Next best option to prevent acid reflux

Demerit

  • The top leg is not supported which causes the knee to prop out of the mattress , which can in turn make the spine to rotate, leading to hip pain and back pain.

3. Yearner Position

Side-lying position with both arms out in front of the body,  study shows that 13% of people sleep like this.

Health benefits

  • Keeps the spine naturally aligned.
  • Next best option to prevent acid reflux

Demerits

  • It can lead to back or hip pain.
  • Sores on shoulder and arms.

4. Soldier Position

These sleepers lie on their back with their arms down and kept close to the body.  13% of people sleep this way.

Health benefits

  • Good for the spine
  • Helps to avoid wrinkles
  • Prevent acid reflux
  • Prevent drooling

Demerits

  • Snoring becomes a problem
  • Complicate sleep apnoea

5. Free fall Position

These are people who lie on their bellies with arms under or wrapped around a pillow with head turned to the side, they make up 7% of the population studied.

Health benefits

  • It minimizes snoring.
  • It aid digestive issues.

Demerits

  • Straining of the neck/neck pain.
  • Sore and stiffness of the back.

6. Star Fish Position

These are sleepers who lie on their backs with arms up near their head or the pillow. They account for 5% of population studied.

Health benefit

  • Good for the spine

Demerits

  • It can make worse snoring and sleep apnoea.
  • It causes shoulder pain.

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Sleep Disorders or Sleep Problems

There are a lot of problems and disorders associated with sleep. It would be an added advantage to know about sleep disorders and their symptoms:

   1.  Sleep Apnea

It is a common and a treatable sleep disorder in which your breathing temporarily stops during sleep due to the blockage of upper airways

    Symptoms

  • Loud, chronic snoring and chest pain.
  • Frequent pauses in breathing during the night.
  • Sleeping during the day, feeling exhausted after waking, headaches and dry throat.

2. Insomnia

It is the most common type of sleep disorder. It is the inability to get to sleep or sleep well at night. It can be caused by stress, jetlag, health condition, medication, anxiety, and depression.

Symptoms

  • Sleepiness and low energy during the day.
  • Difficulty falling asleep at night.
  • Consumption of sleeping pills, supplements in order to fall asleep.

3. Narcolepsy

It is a type of sleep disorder that involves excessive uncontrollable day time sleepiness.  It is caused by a dysfunction of the brain mechanism that controls sleeping and waking. This can also cause sleep attack when talking, driving or working.

  Symptoms

  • Feeling paralyzed and unable to move when you are waking up or dozing off.
  • Suddenly feeling weak or losing control of your muscles when laughing or experiencing anger.

Other sleep problems include; Jetlag , delayed sleep phase disorder etc.

 

Sleep Hygiene

These are practices and habits that one adopts which can promote getting a better sleep at night. This includes:

  • Stay away from large meal close to bed time
  • Stick to a regular sleep-wake up schedule, even on weekends.
  • Avoid screens (TV, phones, tablets, and computer) within 2hrs of your bed time.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine in coffee, chocolate, beverages close to bed time.
  • Associate your bed with sleep. Don’t turn your bed to studio nor reading room.

 

Foods and Drinks that are Bad for Sleep

Just like 5 kinds of food to avoid before going for exam, some of these foods are good. But when you are hoping for a good night sleep, they are not to be taken before bed because they can rob you of sleep. These foods include:

  • Foods and drinks that contain caffeine e.g. coffee, dark chocolates, etc.
  • Foods high in fats
  • Spicy foods
  • Foods containing water
  • Foods high in protein
  • Alcohol

How long should you sleep?

Needs by Age

Average Sleep

  • Newborn to 2 months old
12 – 18 hrs
  • 3 months to 1 year old
14 – 15 hrs
  • 1 to 3 years old
12 – 14 hrs
  • 3 to 5 years old
11 – 13 hrs
  • 5 to 12 years old
10 – 11 hrs
  • 12 to 18 years old
8.5 – 10 hrs
  • Adults (18+)
7.5 – 9 hrs

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Exercise! Does it help?

Yes it does! As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as  brisk walking or cycling is, it can dramatically improve the quality of your night time sleep, especially when it’s done on a regular basis.

      How?

It reduces stress and tires you out. Early morning and afternoon exercise may also help reset the sleep-wake cycle by raising body temperature slightly, then allowing it to drop and trigger sleepiness a few hours later.

Now, you have known all about sleep, sleep disorders, sleeping positions and a lot more. Why not share this post with your friends and let the knowledge keep going round. If you have questions, comments or addition, kindly use the comment box below.

 

Disclaimer: This content provided above is for informational purposes only and it’s not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

 

About Author

Ope SonibareSonibare Opeoluwa Itunu is a graduate of Nutrition and Dietetics from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. She loves singing, reading, and dancing. Her favourite quote is “imitation is limitation” by John Mason. You can connect with her on Facebook

A student, Part-time Blogger, freelance writer and an OAP. Want to know more about me? click my social media links.
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