Getting good quality sleep each night plays an essential role in our health and wellbeing, providing us with a platform to function properly every day.
An average of seven to eight hours per night is often cited as the optimum amount for most adults, but how we achieve this is not always straightforward.
While some people can fall asleep every night at the drop of a hat, most individuals need to undertake a relaxing pre-bedtime routine to get the best sleep.
That point was hammered home by a recent study by online casino Betway, which discovered that meditating before bedtime was the best way to guarantee an undisturbed night.
Having established how people can get some quality shuteye, the findings are an excellent starting point in understanding the importance of sleep.
Recent research by a group at the University of California sought to shed more light on sleep and the role it plays in contributing to our alertness the following day.
They discovered that sleep worked much better when it was combined with two other elements – regular physical exercise and eating a breakfast low in sugar and high in carbohydrates.
Led by sleep expert Matthew Walker, the researchers discovered that combining the three elements had a significant impact on alertness levels.
Postdoctoral research fellow Raphael Vallat was the primary author on a study that represents a major breakthrough in understanding how people can best function properly every day.
Undertaking substantial exercise during the day, sleeping for longer and eating a breakfast high in complex carbohydrates were found to be the magic formula.
“All of these have a unique and independent effect,” Vallat said. “If you sleep longer or later, you’re going to see an increase in your alertness.
“If you do more physical activity on the day before, you’re going to see an increase. You can see improvements with each and every one of these factors.”
The dietary element of the group’s findings are particularly noteworthy, as they give a definitive answer to the question of which type of breakfast is best for keeping people alert.
Hundreds of study participants were given different breakfasts for two weeks to determine how they responded to them during the day.
By monitoring their blood glucose levels, the researchers were able to ascertain which breakfast was most beneficial to helping alertness and maintaining that state.
A high carbohydrate breakfast with a modest amount of protein came out on top by a significant margin, while sugar-infused foods left participants struggling with sleepiness.
“We have known for some time that a diet high in sugar is harmful to sleep, not to mention being toxic for the cells in your brain and body,” Walker said.
“However, what we have discovered is that, beyond these harmful effects on sleep, consuming high amounts of sugar in your breakfast, and having a spike in blood sugar following any type of breakfast meal, markedly blunts your brain’s ability to return to waking consciousness following sleep.”