Army H.e.a.l.t.h. Arsenal
October, 2016

The Relax Melodies app allows users to select relaxing sounds and melodies to fall asleep to. Users can combine different sounds to make their own mix or listen to mixes created by others.

For those who need a little more help falling asleep, the app also offers guided meditation. One meditation is included for free, with others available for purchase.

Relax Melodies is available for free in the app store for iPhone and Android.

Sleep Corner

The Link Between Sleep and Depression

The quality and quantity of your sleep is closely related to both you mental and physical health. When you aren’t sleeping well (either too much or not enough), you are more likely to experience anxiety and depression. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people with insomnia have greater levels of depression and anxiety than those who sleep normally. They are 10 times as likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety. The more a person experiences insomnia and the more frequently they wake at night as a result, the higher the chances of developing depression.

Having a sleep disorder does not in itself cause depression, but lack of sleep does play a role. Lack of sleep caused by another medical illness or by personal problems can make depression worse. An inability to sleep that lasts over a long period of time is also an important clue that someone may be depressed. If you think you may be experiencing insomnia or other sleep related issues such as depression or anxiety, it is important to discuss this with your doctor immediately.

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A good night’s sleep can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight

Most people are aware that eating a healthy diet and exercising are both important lifestyle factors for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. But, thanks to strong evidence supported by research, we now know that sleep also plays a vital role in weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. This is because of how certain hormones are either increased or decreased, depending on the amount of sleep we get. These hormones consequentially impact our weight.

The three main hormones that are affected by our sleep are ghrelin, leptin, and cortisol. Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that work together to control hunger and fullness. Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for stimulating your appetite. Leptin is the hormone responsible for making you feel full and satisfied. When you do not get enough sleep, ghrelin levels increase, while leptin levels decrease. Therefore, a lack of sleep causes you to feel hungry and may lead to overeating.

Another hormone at play is cortisol. You may recognize this hormone as the so-called “stress hormone”. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body goes into a state of distress and starts to release more cortisol. This release of cortisol triggers your body to produce glucose and store fat, since food may not be readily available during stressful times.
It’s easy to see how sleep is vital for weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. Being aware of the hormonal factors influenced by sleep can help you to understand why it is so important to get enough sleep. For tips on how to get a better night’ sleep, check out the Army H.E.A.L.T.H. blog.

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Ask An Expert

I work the midnight shift. What are some tips for how to sleep well while working late shits?

Adjust Your Circadian Rhythm

Circadian rhythms are the body's internal clock that tells us when to be awake and when to sleep. Keeping your workplace bright during your shift will help your circadian rhythm to adjust. Additionally, invest in blackout curtains for your bedroom. Limited exposure to light will signal your body to relax and prepare for sleep.

Limit Caffeine Intake

While it is okay to have a cup or two of coffee at the beginning of your shift, try to avoid caffeine toward the end of your shift. A good rule of thumb is to avoid coffee at least 6 hours prior to your bedtime. Don’t’ forget other sources of caffeine such as soda and chocolate.

Stick to a Schedule

Maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle will help reduce grogginess and sleeplessness. If you have errands or events that you must go to during the day, try to either do them right after your shirt is over or right before it is beginning. This will ensure that you still have a large chunk of time set aside for sleeping.

Mindful Moment

Be mindful of your sleep environment. Shut off TV’s, put your phone or tablet away, and make sure your room is dark and the temperature is cool.

Bottom Line

A good night’s sleep will not only help you to feel refreshed an energized, but it will also help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight. Hunger hormones such as ghrelin, leptin, and cortisol are all controlled by the amount of sleep you get. Additionally, not getting enough sleep is linked with anxiety and depression.

Shift workers face additional challenges to sleeping. Although it can be challenging, there are some steps shift workers can take in order to help regulate their sleep cycle. These steps include exposure to light during waking hours and darkness during sleeping hours, limiting caffeine intake, and sticking to a consistent schedule.

Lastly, there are certain foods that can help bring on that sleepy feeling. Bananas, yogurt, cherries, and skim milk all contain ingredients that can help you get a better night’s sleep. Eating these foods in addition to your regular bedtime routine may help you sleep better.

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Featured Recipe: The Evening Smoothie

This smoothie is not only delicious, but the ingredients can help promote sleep! It is best enjoyed in the evening, but not too close to bedtime. Eating or drinking anything (besides water) too close bedtime can stimulate your digestive tract, which may interfere with sleep.

Bananas are a great source of magnesium and potassium, which serve as natural muscle relaxants. They are also a good source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid which is a precursor to the neurotransmitters, serotonin and melatonin, which play a role in the sleep/wake cycle. Milk and yogurt are also a good source of tryptophan.

Cherries are an abundant source of melatonin. As mentioned above, melatonin plays a role in the sleep cycle. During the evening, your body will naturally release melatonin as it begins to get dark outside. This release of melatonin helps you to feel more relaxed, sleepy, and ready for bed. Foods that contain a high amount of melatonin can cause the same sleep-inducing effect.

* Remember to include the calories from this smoothie into your daily calorie budget.

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 C plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 C frozen cherries
  • 1 1/2 C skim milk

  • Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

    Nutrition Information:
    Servings: 2      Calories: 231      Carbs: 47g      Fiber: 5g      Sugar: 36g                Fat: 0g            Protein: 12g        Sodium: 108mg     

    Featured Exercise: Core

    Featured Recipe from Steam Powered Family.