Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Janet
Getting the proper amount of sleep has many health benefits. The optimal amount of sleep—not too little or too much—may reduce risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Lack of sleep might diminish our antioxidant levels and weaken our immune systems. Studies suggest that intake of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants as well as cherries, raspberries, and kiwifruit can help replenish nutrients lost during times of stress or sleep deprivation. Part of good sleep hygiene may be to avoid light exposure at night, which can undermine the pineal gland’s release of melatonin. Food dyes may introduce sleep issues, and the chemicals in fragrances and other household products used in the bedroom may increase risk of allergies, asthma, and eczema. Whole foods, plant-based and raw diets may improve sleep quality, possibly by reducing inflammation associated with ingesting animal products. Exercise appears to help people sleep better.