Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stress and Sleep

Stress is an external (or sometimes psychological) force that affects an individual. Not necessarily positive or negative, stressors can motivate people to meet a deadline or work out before for a race. On the other hand, long-term or chronic stress can increase the risk for serious health problems like heart disease and depression.

When stressed, the adrenal glands release the stress hormone cortisol, which raises blood pressure and quickens the heartbeat, a state known as “fight-or-flight” mode. Elevated cortisol levels over the long term lead to inflammation and increased disease risk. Stress management is the effort to respond or adapt to stress in a more positive, effective way. Eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and sleeping enough all help improve stress response, as do supportive, loving relationships. Meditation techniques have been shown effective at reducing stress. Supplements that may improve the body's stress response include American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius); Siberian ginseng or eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) antioxidants, 
such as vitamins C, B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, and other B vitamins; L-theanine, found in green tea; ashwagandha (Withania somnifera); rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea); schisandra (Schisandra chinensis); fish oil (omega-3 essential fatty acids); and chamomile.

-Delicious Living Magazine, Week of April 20, 2011