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9 Reasons Disturbed Sleep Could Be Undermining Your Blood Sugar Control
Nothing makes you feel worse than a bad night’s sleep, waking up feeling like you’ve had a ‘night on the tiles’ while huddled in bed affects your overall performance the next day. If this happens regularly, it can seriously affect your ability to regulate your blood sugar levels. Let’s look at the impact of sleep deprivation, possible underlying factors, and an action plan for a better nap.
Stages of sleep
There are four stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep:
Stage 1 is transitional sleep
Stage 2 is light sleep
Stages 3 and 4 are deep stages of sleep during which the body repairs and builds tissues. These stages have the largest and slowest brain waves ‘delta waves’. Stage 4 is increasingly intense and each stage can last from 5 to 15 minutes, during the sleep cycle people progress through all the stages and then the cycle starts again.
There are also two different states of sleep: NREM and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, sometimes called dream sleep. During REM sleep, we are almost paralyzed, large muscles cannot move – only the heart, diaphragm, eye muscles and smooth muscles (such as the muscles of the intestines and blood vessels) can move.
Why we sleep is not fully understood, but it is thought to involve memory consolidation, immune system function and mood maintenance. It is estimated that at some point in our lives, 40% of individuals may be affected by a primary sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, snoring, feeling restless during the day, and insufficient sleep. The main problems related to sleep are problems with concentration and remembering things.
There is emerging evidence that sleep disturbances and sleep disturbances play a role in the development of chronic diseases, but the link is often unclear. Many medical conditions can affect sleep, such as diabetes or other inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, which can cause poor sleep quality and lead to symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
It has been suggested that poor sleep may lead to the development of cardiovascular disease, where an underlying inflammatory component has been suggested.
Lack of sleep in type 2 diabetes results in increased sympathetic nervous system activity, which in turn increases cortisol, resulting in increased insulin resistance, which in some individuals leads to weight management problems and/or high morning sugar levels. This is due to cortisol acting on the liver to release glucose.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia can be described as difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings during the night and difficulty falling back to sleep, early mornings, or feeling tired when you wake up. There are two types of insomnia:
Primary – sleep problems not related to any other medical condition.
Secondary – sleep problems caused by something else, such as asthma, depression, arthritis, heartburn, pain, medication or alcohol.
Acute insomnia can last from one night to several weeks, with chronic insomnia affecting an individual for a longer period of time, usually at least 3 nights a week for a month.
9 main underlying factors
1. Altered levels of various hormones and neurotransmitters affect blood sugar control.
2. Disorders related to adrenal problems due to stress or trauma (cortisol). Cortisol works with insulin to regulate glucose levels.
3. Melatonin imbalance, which is closely related to the light/dark cycle, the night time rise and the opening of the sleep gate at night. This disorder affects the hormones involved in glucose regulation.
4. The hormone ghrelin (along with leptin) regulates your energy balance and regulates your appetite and weight. Studies show dysregulation of energy balance and reduced ghrelin levels in patients with insomnia, which is closely related to glucose metabolism.
5. The neurotransmitter GABA plays a complex role in the feedback mechanism to the brain in controlling cortisol levels.
6. Blood sugar imbalance per se, especially low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
7. An imbalance of micronutrients affects the body’s metabolism and regulation of glucose systems.
8. Magnesium – Magnesium deficiency is common and magnesium is known to cause neurological problems related to sleep, including depression. It is also important for regulating cortisol and the complex feedback system to the brain.
9. Excessive use of stimulants.
Measures to manage sleep and adrenal disorders
Sleep hygiene – regular routines, exercise and daylight. The temperature in the bedroom is not too high.
Avoid stimulants one hour before bedtime – tea, coffee, sugar, TV, computers, laptops and telephones.
Avoid poor food choices including poor nutrient stores, food additives and food reactions/sensitivities that put additional stress on the body.
Ensure adequate sodium intake, especially if the adrenal glands are exhausted due to physical (food, infection, and trauma) or emotional stress. Exhaustion causes a decrease in the hormone aldosterone, which stimulates sodium excretion through frequent urination.
Consider supplementing with magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin B5 are key nutrients involved in the biochemical processes involved in the production and regulation of cortisol.
Vitamin B6 (niacin) deficiency may cause sleep problems. Niacin helps relieve sleep problems associated with anxiety, take it along with a complete B complex of vitamins.
Consider a 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) supplement which is a precursor to foods rich in serotonin or tryptophan, such as yogurt, cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry (especially turkey), sesame seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and peanuts. 5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior and the sensation of pain. Because 5-HTP increases serotonin synthesis, it is used for several conditions in which serotonin is thought to play an important role, including depression, insomnia, and obesity.
Consider herbal extracts such as valerianone of the most researched herbal supplements that promotes relaxation and reduces stress.
Other popular plant extracts include: California poppy, hops, lemon balm, linden flowers, verbein and wild lettuce, use as a mixture of dry herbs steamed in hot water and then strained. St. John’s wort tablets may also be helpful for some individuals.
Consult your pharmacist and doctor regarding interactions with certain medications and medical conditions. Before taking any type of supplement, check with your doctor to make sure it is safe and appropriate for you.
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