Insomnia, Enemy That Does Not Sleep

My mother has suffered from insomnia for many years. I do not suffer from it, but I have had periods in which it has been difficult for me to sleep peacefully. I share with you some scientific suggestions that can help.

I have seen my mother stay awake many hours at night, unable to fall asleep. I have also witnessed that he has painstakingly searched for various options to combat it. For my part, I do not suffer from insomnia, but I have had periods in which it has been a little more difficult for me to sleep peacefully. As a chemist by profession, I am passionate about researching topics like this, so common in society but, at the same time, so little known. Here are some scientific suggestions that can work for you if you are a victim of this enemy of good rest, which sneaks into our bedrooms without us noticing: insomnia.

The insomnia gene

A study with fruit flies ( Drosophila melanogaster ) has found a gene, dubbed insomniac, that regulates much of the sleep process. The study authors affirm that sleep mechanisms can be very similar in humans and flies, since they discovered that animals with mutations in the gene manifested sleep disorders. For example, while flies sleep an average of 927 minutes a day (about fifteen hours), those where the gene mutated only dedicated 317 minutes to this activity. Also, insomniac flies live much less than normal flies. The insomniac gene activates a protein breakdown pathway in neurons. Researchers have also indicated that although humans apparently have little in common with fruit flies, the mechanisms that regulate sleep and wakefulness may be very similar.

If you are fighting insomniac , dare to try some of these strategies to combat it:

1. Sweat more and you will sleep better

Do you find it difficult to fall asleep at night and do you wake up tired in the morning? A new study from the Center for Sleep Disorders at Northwestern University reveals that the best antidote to chronic insomnia is regular aerobic exercise . To reach this conclusion, Phyllis Zee and her colleagues worked with 23 adults over 55 years of age, sedentary habits, and suffering from insomnia. For sixteen weeks, half of them practiced aerobic physical exercise of a certain intensity, for periods of twenty to forty minutes, four times a week. The rest devoted the same time to recreational activities, such as a cooking class or a visit to a museum. The result was that only those who had practiced exercise noticed a considerable improvement in the quality of sleep, practically leaving their insomnia problems behind. In addition, they reported feeling “more vital” and with less daytime sleepiness.

2. A glass of milk with cookies: the best recipe for insomnia

Including a series of healthy foods in our daily diet is as important as the time we eat them. This is assured by the professor of Physiology at the University of Extremadura, Carmen Barriga, a specialist in Chrononutrition, who recommends that people who suffer from insomnia (and those who find it difficult to fall asleep) take a glass of hot milk with a tablespoon before sleeping of sugar and some cookies. This formula, according to Barriga, is the perfect combination, since both cereals and milk are foods rich in tryptophan, which is the amino acid responsible for synthesizing the hormone melatonin, a substance involved in inducing sleep.

But it is not the only food that can help you fall asleep, but all foods that contain tryptophan, or even serotonin or melatonin. Bananas, cherries, cereals, tomatoes, lettuce, nuts or red fruits, as well as fish, can help you sleep well and obtain a more restful sleep. On the contrary, fruits rich in vitamin C such as orange or kiwi, drinks such as tea or coffee, red meats and sausages rich in thyroxine, which is an amino acid precursor of cathelocamines, should be avoided in the late hours of the day. and dopamines, which make us stay awake, ‚ÄĚsays the researcher.

3. The Mediterranean diet combats sleep problems

An appropriate combination of a Mediterranean diet and physical exercise can help alleviate some symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, a disorder characterized by abnormal interruptions in breathing, or, for moments of an abnormally low respiratory rate during sleep.

Researchers from the University of Crete (Greece) examined forty obese individuals with sleep apnea. Half of them followed a low-fat diet, and the remaining twenty a Mediterranean diet. In addition, both groups were advised to increase their physical activity, specifically to walk for at least 30 minutes a day. During the six months that the study lasted and analyzed the changes in the sleep patterns of the participants, the researchers observed that those who had followed the Mediterranean diet had experienced fewer apneas during the sleep phase called REM (rapid eye movement). ).

4. You sleep better in hammocks

The gentle movement of the hammocks helps us sleep faster and achieve greater depth of sleep, according to a study carried out by the University of Geneva (Switzerland). “For time immemorial, we rock children to sleep, and we fall asleep irresistibly in a rocking chair,” explains Sophie Schwartz, who says that until now no neuroscientific explanation for this phenomenon has been found. In their research, Schwartz and her colleagues invited a dozen healthy adult volunteers to take a forty-minute nap in a “classic” bed, and another nap in a moving bed. During each period of sleep, they measured brain activity using an encephalogram (EEG). They observed that in all cases there was a significant difference in brain waves. Specifically, sleeping with the rocking characteristic of a hammock increases the slow oscillations and the axes or spindles of sleep, which serve as a transition between light and deep sleep. Both records are associated with deep sleep and increased memory consolidation. Furthermore, individuals who generate more sleep spindles are able to tolerate noise better while sleeping.

5. The smell of jasmine makes you sleepy

Studying the scent of the jasmine flower, Hanns Hatt and his colleagues at Heinrich Hane University in Susseldorf have discovered that it has the same effect as certain sedatives and anesthetics: it relieves anxiety and induces sleep. At the brain level, this smell acts on the synapse between neurons, increasing the effect of a natural inhibitory neurotransmitter, called GABA. And the most surprising thing is that, using the scent of jasmine, the German scientists obtained a sedative effect five times more powerful than with barbiturates.

On the contrary, the smell of peppermint, according to the American researcher Bryan Raudenbush, increases alertness, attention to detail, working memory, motivation and mood, while reducing fatigue and frustration.

6. Grapes make you sleepy

A group of Italian scientists seems to have found the key when they discovered that grape skins contain melatonin. It is a hormone that is also produced by the human brain and which regulates sleep and wake cycles. Thus, our melatonin levels rise at night and fall during the day. Researchers have examined eight different types of grapes, and in all of them they have found the existence of this hormone.

Don’t suffer anymore from insomnia. Put some or all of these ideas into practice and see for yourself the good results you can get.

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