Monthly Archives: August 2014
An important, often underrated aspect of good health, is getting enough sleep. Your mood and your performance during the day depends a lot on how good your sleep was the previous night.
The onset of many modern illnesses such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes are meanwhile also attributed to lack of sleep. So how much sleep is really enough?
Generally school-aged children require about ten hours of sleep while the average adult requires between 7-8 hours. Going to be early however, doesn’t necessarily mean that your sleep is good.
Insomnia or the inability to fall asleep is especially prevalent among people with highly stressed jobs. Apnea, a momentary suspension of breathing, is also widespread.
These are some of the questions you might ask if you have the feeling that you are not sleeping enough:
– Are you having problems falling asleep?
– How many hours are you actually sleeping?
– How often do you have problems during the day staying awake?
If you are feeling drowsy after a midday lunch you can easily rejuvenate yourself by taking a short ten minute catnap. But in most cases we are expected to burn our candles on both ends, giving our bodies too little time to recuperate. You can improve your sleep by doing the following:
- Avoiding heavy meals, drinks and stimulants such as coffee in the evenings.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time.
- Take a catnap during the day to catch up for last sleep
- Make sure your bedroom is dark with television and computer screens turned off
- If you wake up worrying about something, write it down on paper and postpone it to the next day.
- Breathing exercises such as exhaling twice as much as inhaling will help you relax
- Progressive muscle relaxation is also a method that could be useful
If you are one of those few people who sleep ten hours and more a day, then you might have a problem too. A study by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) in the US links too much sleep with chronic diseases in adults aged 45 years and older.
Published in early October this year, the study involved more than 54,000 participants in 14 states in the US. Both short and long sleepers reported a higher prevalence of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and anxiety, compared to optimal sleepers who got seven to nine hours of shut-eye on average.
As a child I loved spending the weekends on the farm of my grandparents. When I think of those sumptuous meals at the family table, I recall the taste of deliciously-sweet pumpkin, sweet potato, peas, beans and many other freshly-picked vegetables and fruits.
As far as food-supply was concerned my grandparents were completely self-sufficient, like most farmers in South Africa those days. Buying processed foods from the supermarket was seen as a “waste of money” that was better spent by donating to the church.
Apart from saving money, you can get the best fresh and organic foods from your own garden. You don’t even need much land to do it. Moreover, it is not packed in plastic and the only distance it travels is from your garden to your kitchen.
In my Blog “Good Foods are no longer nourishing us” I quoted a scientific report from a food laboratory in Oberthal, Germany, that even the common power foods today like spinach and broccoli have up to 50 per cent less nutrients than in the 1950s. The reason: long transportation routes, packaging in plastics and depletion of soils.
We started growing our own vegetable patch this summer and it is a lot less effort than you might think. It only takes up a small section of the garden and will supply your family with a delicious supply of fresh produce over the summer. I can’t tell you how tasty our first tomato pickings were – a far cry from the “watery” stuff that you buy in the supermarket. The fresh salad grown from seeds are hard to beat.
Our first crop
Courgettes can be grown in patio containers while tomatoes can even be raised on a warm and well-lit windowsill. Beans are just as easy to grown from seeds and can provide fresh crop for several weeks.
If you live in a city you need a little more creativity. But it’s possible and a growing number of people are doing it because its a lot healthier and cheaper. Balconies, patios and even rooftops can be used. Shelves, hanging baskets or trellises can be used to create lovely gardens.
London has even created a scheme for young people to grow their own food to reduce social isolation and to teach them the value of biodiversity.
About a quarter of Britons are now growing their own food, largely because of rising food prices, sharing gardens with other people in land allotment schemes. A variety of community-based initiatives are encouraging urban farming.
In Germany, maintaining a “Schrebergarten” or small plot of land in the city is a long tradition.
First established in the 19th century to teach children the basics of gardening, they were a source of survival for many during World War II. Now it is catching on again among trendy yuppies wanting to grow their own power foods.
For my part I can only say: I’ve discovered a new hobby. It s a lot of fun!