Prairie Fare: Snooze Your Way to Better Health
Sleep is critical for functioning in daily life.
“Daylight savings time is almost here. We can’t forget to move the clocks forward,” my husband commented the other day.
“Oh, no. I have a hard time with losing an hour of sleep when we ‘spring ahead’,” I replied.
Although I appreciate the extended daylight hours, I feel jet lag for a few days.
That one hour of lost snoozing time has some major repercussions, according to a survey of 1,000 adults conducted by the Better Sleep Council in 2013 and 2014.
About 61 percent of survey respondents said they feel the effects of the time change the following Monday. About 29 percent of the respondents said it takes a full week to recover from the time change, with women having a harder time adjusting than men. Younger adults have a harder time adjusting than older adults.
About 39 percent report that daylight savings time affects their mood. In fact, 5 percent of the survey respondents indicated that “the Incredible Hulk has nothing on them.”
Most people experience occasional insomnia. When I do, I usually get out of bed and go downstairs to avoid waking my family with lights or the sounds of a TV. Unfortunately, my nighttime stroll disturbs our three dogs on the main floor. Our dogs look at me groggily and quickly wake up. They think morning has arrived, and they begin looking for their breakfast.
Then I have a real issue. Our three playful dogs are hopping around, and I am fully awake. I know I will be exhausted the next day or beyond.
After I coax the dogs to return to their soft bed, I turn on the TV and try to bore myself to sleep with late-night TV. Sometimes, I visit my Facebook page to see if any of my night owl friends are still awake and posting amusing pictures or stories online.
However, neither watching TV nor working on a computer are good ideas for insomniacs, according to researchers. Both activate the brain and can “wake you up.” I should find a dull book to read.
As we all know, sleep is critical for functioning in daily life. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. On average, adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
In another survey by the Better Sleep Council, 48 percent of Americans stated that they do not get enough sleep, but less than half of them take any one specific action to help them get better sleep. Women are more likely than men to feel sleep-deprived, and women are more likely to recognize the heath issues associated with sleep deprivation.
So, what’s the big deal about not getting enough sleep? Most of us recognize issues related to fatigue and inability to concentrate when lacking sufficient shuteye. Longer-term issues include a link to heart disease, strokes, diabetes and mental health issues. A lack of sleep upsets hormones linked to appetite control, which can lead to weight gain.
We spend about one-third of our lives asleep, and sleep is necessary for our survival. Try these tips based on information from the National Institutes of Health and the Better Sleep Council:
Establish a bedtime routine and stay on a schedule with your sleep patterns. Go to bed the same time on weeknights and weekends.
Don’t nap after 3 p.m. Occasional short naps are OK, but persistent napping may indicate you are not getting the restful sleep you need.
Be aware of your caffeine intake. Caffeine can disrupt sleep, so try refraining from caffeine after noon.
Avoid nightcaps (alcoholic drinks). Drinking alcohol may make you sleepy; however, you may wake up when the effects wear off.
Avoid large meals or large amounts of beverages before bed.
Unwind before bedtime. Listen to music, read and/or take a warm bath.
Make sure your room is quiet and cool. Be sure your mattress is comfortable and supports your body.
If you can’t sleep after 20 minutes, get up and do some relaxing activity such as reading.
If you have persistent issues with sleeping, see a health-care professional.
Visit http://www.ndsu.edu/boomers for more information about eating healthfully. Visit http://www.bettersleep.org for more information about its surveys and ways to rest better. If you want a light snack before bed, try some granola and milk.
1 1/2 c. dry red lentils
5 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 c. rolled oats
5 ounces sliced almonds
1 c. shaved coconut
1 c. dried cranberries or desired dried fruit
2 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add lentils and simmer for five minutes or until just tender. Drain lentils and spread out on a tray. Allow to steam dry and cool. Preheat your oven to 300 F.
Combine honey, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of oil in a bowl. Toss the cooled lentils in the honey mixture. Spread the coated lentils on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
Stir in oats and almonds and continue baking for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Next add coconut and dried fruit and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until everything is browned. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Try sprinkling granola on yogurt or oatmeal.
Makes 24 servings. Each serving has 150 calories, 6 grams (g) of fat, 5 g of protein, 19 g of carbohydrate, 3 g of fiber, 10 milligrams (mg) of sodium, 0.5 microgram of folate and 1 mg of iron.
(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)