The second best remedy ever has just been discovered in Bristol…

  • Maybe this isn’t the price we need to pay for health
  • How to sleep better, especially for kids
  • What is my favourite remedy…EVER?

Who says healthy living has to be hard work?

Obviously not me; I’d never say anything so stupid. Or try anything so stupid.

“But Ray, cleaning out the garage will give you a perfect aerobic workout. Your heart, lungs, and blood vessels will benefit from the increased amount of oxygen in the body, which helps strengthen body tissue and keep you healthy.”

I tell you, there are few downfalls to writing a health letter, but when your wife quotes things back at you…

Ah well, it’s a small price to pay.

But as I keep pointing out (whilst slumped in my favourite armchair reading the papers) The Good Life Letter isn’t about healthy living at ALL costs…It’s about using natural ways and common sense to fight illness, protect your health and lift your mood without living like a saint!

OR cleaning out the garage…

Which is why this latest bit of research, made right here in sunny Bristol, caught my eye…

Smash your alarm clock and protect your health

According to a certain Dr Shahrad Taheri of Bristol University, children who do not get enough sleep could be damaging hormones that affect appetite and the ability to burn up energy, resulting in obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

And it’s doing this in two ways…

First, our bodies produce certain chemicals as we sleep which go about their business while we keep out of the way by dreaming of sheep (or in my case, dreaming of scoring the winning try in the World Cup Final, and being awarded the man of the match award sponsored by Cadbury’s).

And these chemicals perform vital maintenance and care that’s disrupted if we don’t sleep enough.

For example, the level of ghrelin, a hormone released by the stomach to signal hunger, was found to be 15% higher in people who only manage five hours sleep a night compared to those who get a traditional eight.

And there’s another problem…

If you don’t get enough sleep and wake up knackered, the chances of you doing exercise or going for a brisk walk during the day will shrink dramatically.

And lack of exercise is a major cause of obesity and heart problems.

So, here are some ways to make sure you and your family are getting enough sleep to let your body patch itself up and prepare for the next day.

When technology is bad

  • Make sure your kids don’t have square eyes. These days young people are drowning in a culture of mobile phones, computer games and telly. In my day it was only telly, so there’s a lot more to tackle now.

Start by making sure your kids’ bedrooms are gadget free – and that includes making them leave their mobile phones downstairs. If the temptation’s there, kids will take it.

Now I know there was some other research published a few weeks back that said that screen time wasn’t intrinsically bad for children’s health… but that report also went on to say that this was only if they were getting enough sleep.

So make sure there’s no chance of them getting square eyes (or square ears if there’s such a thing) just before bedtime.

  • Let your mind help you sleep. Take out some photos of a fantastic holiday you’ve had and really imagine being back there again. Go to bed and try and remember the smells and feel the heat on your skin.

The more detail you can recall and immerse yourself in, the more relaxed you’ll become and the more easily you’ll sleep (unless Lara remembers my Bermuda shorts and sits bolt upright screaming).

  • No coffee or tea an hour before bedtime. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can prompt you to stay awake no matter how tired you are. And even if you manage to nod off, the quality of sleep will be poor. So cut it out at bedtime.
  • I hate writing this but… NO SWEETS. At least cut back on them if you’re having trouble sleeping. Sugar can cause your body’s natural levels to go haywire.

They soar when you have the sweets, then crash later in the day – which usually means during the night. And this dip can disrupt your sleep.

Instead, do yourself a favour and:

  • Eat sleepy foods! Avoid anything with high sugar levels. Instead have something like a whole grain cracker. The carbs in it can help you sleep.

WARNING: Kava is frequently touted as a natural remedy that eases insomnia, but recently the FDA (the U.S. food and drugs body) issued a warning about its potential risk to the liver. So my advice is to steer clear – or consult your doctor before even thinking about taking this at the very least.

Follow these tips, and the eight hours you need should come easily to you.

So, if more sleep is my second favourite natural remedy…

What’s my favourite?

My number one favourite natural remedy EVER!

I don’t mean to sound like one of those naff records (The best Yodelling album EVER! anyone…?), but I can’t think of a more enjoyable remedy than having a glass of red wine.

This topic is one that many of you like to argue with me about, and I do recognise that alcohol isn’t to everyone’s taste or doctrine, but the science is with me on this one…

…as long as it is in infrequent moderation, and that is all I am suggesting…

But wouldn’t it be great if doctors whipped out their prescription pads for a bottle of Bourgogne-Rouge? (I think I’ve just come up with a dream that’s going to knock my rugby one of its perch).

But here’s something I didn’t know…

Until now research had only ever looked at the effects of alcohol on the health of older people.

Now, I’m not sure what they mean by ‘older people’, but I don’t think I was included (no comments needed thank you!)

However, just recently, the age range had broadened – studies suggest that moderate drinking can improve general health and mental wellbeing in people as young as thirty three.

So now all you thirty-something whippersnappers can enjoy the occasional drink guilt free.

Yours, as always