Cut down on sugar for a good sleep

We all know that sugar is bad for our waistlines and that the more we eat and drink it, the more pounds we’ll pile on. Research from Queen Mary University in London recently pointed out that cutting the sugar content in sweet drinks by 40 per cent over the next couple of years would prevent a million cases of obesity in the UK.

But it isn’t just our weight that sugar affects, as scientists and Silentnight beds expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan have stressed the negative impact sugar has on our night’s sleep.

Dr Anna Weighall from the University of Leeds recently worked with Silentnight on an in-depth study, which found a correlation between how much shut eye we get and how much we crave sugar. Research documented in Sleep Disorders: Treatment & Care brought to light that high calorie diets in young people leads to a shorter sleep.

Leptin is a hormone that reduces hunger and it peaks during sleep, meaning it decreases with lack of sleep. With leptin keeping hunger pangs at bay, another hormone called ghrelin increases food cravings and is more present when you’re struggling to sleep,

“With talk of a ‘sugar tax’ we are all increasingly aware of the negative effects of sugar on the nation’s health, especially in relation to weight gain and obesity.” Dr Weighall explained.

“However, scientists have also shown that our diet can be important for sleep too. There is evidence that both adults and children who eat high calorie diets are more likely to sleep less.”

Dr Ramlakhan is adamant that sugar should be avoided near bed time, especially for sensitive sleepers.

“What is interesting from the research is that we see how quite quickly the relationship between sugar and sleep can become a negative cycle – with what we put into the body disrupting our sleep patterns, we are then kept awake and our body begins to crave all the things which keep us awake,” she added.

“Sugar can cause more restlessness and hyperactivity, especially if you’re a sensitive sleeper so best to minimize it. I would encourage people to break the cycle with a low sugar or better still sugar free drink before bed. If you have a hot drink before you go to sleep, it best to make it with almond milk which is high in tryptophan which is proven to improve sleep.”

Mothers over 40 ‘more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke’

A fresh study claims that new mothers over the age of 40 are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke later in life.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota in America looked at more than 72,000 women to compile their new research, with 3,300 of those falling pregnant at a more mature age. The research was conducted on the women over a period of 12 years during the latter stages of their lives as part of the US Women’s Health Initiative Study.

They found that the women who had given birth after turning 40 were 70 per cent more likely to die of a cardiovascular disease in later life. They were also found to be twice as likely to suffer a haemorrhagic stroke, caused by a brain bleed, and a fifth more likely to have a heart attack.

In addition, their risk of suffering from an ischaemic stroke (caused by a blood clot) was increased by a staggering 60 per cent.

The results were presented on Wednesday (17Feb16) at the American Stroke Association Meeting in Los Angeles.

“We already knew that older women were more likely than younger women to experience health problems during their pregnancy,” Professor Adnan Qureshi, lead researcher and director of the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute in Minnesota, said at the meeting.

“Now, we know that the consequences of that later pregnancy stretch years into the future. Women with a late pregnancy need to be aware of their increased risk and take steps to improve their cardiovascular health.

“Their doctors also need to remain vigilant years later in monitoring these women’s risk factors through physical examination and, perhaps, more tests and earlier interventions to prevent stroke and other cardiovascular events.