Save Your Heart

If you were grumbling this morning about losing an hour of precious shuteye, you may have good reason. Evidence shows that putting the clocks forward can be bad for your health — and could even trigger a heart attack, according to the Sunday People. A US study found the risk of a heart attack surges 10 per cent the Monday and Tuesday afterwards, with increased stress levels and sleep deprivation cited as causes. And diabetics have been warned British Summer Time messes with insulin levels. Here, Dave Gibson, sleep expert for Warren Evans beds, gives his tips on coping with the clock change.

Best start
“Avoid giving in to sugar and carb cravings, which we can get when we are overtired,” says Dave. “These give you a short-term boost, followed by a lull. If you’re lacking sleep due to losing an hour, you’ll feel the effect of the slump even more. “Instead, have protein for breakfast as it takes longer to digest. Have dark green leafy veg such as spinach for lunch, as it contains magnesium and B vitamins for energy. “Eat nuts rather than sugary foods if you feel a lull after lunch as they contain magnesium and protein. “Almonds are a good choice, as are walnuts, which help boost levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone. “Caffeine is a good energy booster after a bad night. A lot of us drink it early to wake up and then ease off by midday so our bodies start to relax for bedtime.”

Get outside
“Sunlight is our body’s natural alarm clock, which is why we naturally wake in the morning. Our bodies take the presence of sunlight as a sign to stop producing melatonin.

What to eat and drink
“Certain foods contain an amino acid called tryptophan, a precursor to melatonin, and can help send you to the land of nod,” says Dave. “It is in a host of foods including turkey, nuts, seeds and dairy and is best absorbed eaten with carbs. Try yoghurt and honey for breakfast and a turkey sandwich for lunch. “Tart Montmorency cherries contain melatonin. If you fancy a snack before bed, try a banana. They contain tryptophan and potassium and magnesium, which help muscles relax.” But booze is a false friend. “While alcohol can get us to sleep quicker, it disrupts our revitalising REM — rapid eye movement — sleep, leading to a reduced quality of sleep.”

Take a nap
If you’re feeling sluggish, there’s a right way to nap, Dave says. “Our bodies can heal a sleep debt. A 90-minute nap should work, giving you one full circuit of sleep cycle. “If you can’t manage it, set the alarm for a 20-minute power nap. But not after 4pm as it will stop you falling asleep easily at night.”

Stick to a sleep routine
“Even though you have lost an hour, go to sleep at the same time you usually would tonight, even if you have to force yourself to keep awake longer,” says Dave. “The brain likes routine so syncing into your daily sleep and wake-up time is the quickest way of resetting your body clock. “Continue to go to bed at the same time — seven days a week if possible. We wouldn’t have had a weekend in cavemen times.”


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