Saturday 16 December 2017

This is the perfect breakfast for a good night's sleep, according to an expert

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Sarah Knapton

It turns out that breakfast might be the key to getting a good night's sleep.

Eating eight almonds and two dates within 30 minutes of waking is the perfect breakfast for a good night’s sleep, an expert has suggested.

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep therapist, has calculated that the handful of nuts and fruit provides the correct balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate to allow the body to fire up the metabolism and stabilise blood sugar.

Eight almonds and two dates offers around 150-200 calories and helps the body produce the the hormone melatonin later in the evening, which is crucial for a good night’s sleep. And it could help people lose weight.

Dr Ramlakhan, who offers sleep coaching and is author of Tired But Wired: How to Overcome Your Sleep Problems, said “Believe it or not, eating breakfast can help you sleep.  It’s as simple as this, if you don’t breakfast, your body believes it is living in famine and produces stress hormones that are not conducive to restful sleep.

“But by eating breakfast, you’re letting your body know there is enough food and you are living in safety, which in turn switches on your sleep, energy systems.

“What’s more, eating breakfast can help you lose weight by speeding your metabolism by up to 10 per cent.  It has a ‘thermogenic’ effect that can last hours after eating.  Think of it like putting fuel into a fire and getting a bigger fire.

“Eight almonds and two dates is a brilliant start to the day for anyone as they wake up.”

In general, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night but the exact amount varies from person to person, depending on age, lifestyle and genes.

But more than a third of Britons sleep for less than six hours a night according to The Sleep Council with modern life blamed for problems nodding off.

Sleep problems are also associated with many illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even colds and flu, so promoting better sleep could help overall health.

Light pollution and the glare from smartphones and tablets mimic daylight, disrupting the release of melatonin, the rest hormone and altering our sleep patterns.

Health and lifestyle problems are also known to impact sleep include obesity, excessive alcohol and sugary drink consumption, smoking, lack of physical activity, mental health problems, stress at work, shift work, financial concerns, and long commuting.

A separate study by The University of Leeds published in the journal PLOS One, found that people who were sleeping an average of six hours a night had higher BMIs.

Dr Laura Hardie, the study's senior investigator, added "Because we found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese, our findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep.

“How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults."

Dr Ramlakhan’s, who also advises the British bed maker Silentnight, added: “Not getting enough sleep forces our body into crisis or survival mode.

“We start to run on adrenaline which makes us conserve energy and store fat particularly around the middle - this is called ‘trunkal thickening’ -  and we start breaking down our muscles.

“Being tired also makes us more reliant on caffeine and refined sugars during the day and these are all substances that will make us put on weight.

“Often people who have difficulty getting to sleep delay going to bed, and then snack as a procrastinating exercise or drink alcohol mistakenly believing it will make them more tired; these are all excess calories that will lead to weight gain”.

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