Dr Jinan Harith Darwish is a paediatric allergy specialist and clinical immunology fellow at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center. Each month she answers your parenting questions.
Q: I’ve recently noticed that I feel tired all the time. I go to bed early but don’t always sleep well and I usually have a cup of coffee before bed, which I’ve been told I need to cut out. Can you offer any suggestions to help increase my energy levels?
1.Try a triple shot of positivity
Make three changes while you have the opportunity — not too many to become an effort but enough to make a difference and it will re-energise you. Change your outfit, change the track, change the air. You’ll get your mojo back.
2. Limit the blue light
If you’re super-glued to your smartphone, it may be just the right time to change your habit. The blue light that shines out of electronics can suppress your body’s ability to secrete the sleep hormone melatonin. Switch on the night shift option on your gadgets.
Dehydration is one of the leading energy sappers there is. Water is an incredibly underestimated energy booster, so have a glass every hour. Get into the habit of keeping bottles dotted about the house, within arm’s reach. After a few days, you’ll find you feel revitalised.
4. Never smother a yawn
When you yawn, you take a large amount of air into your lungs, which, in turn, sends a wave of cool blood to the brain. Yawning drives away lethargy by waking up your brain.
5. Pick protein over carbohydrates
When you are extremely tired it is tempting to start inhaling Cadbury. But step away and go for a protein hit instead whenever you feel a hunger pang. Combining protein and fibre is a winner, because protein gives you energy and fibre helps make that energy last.
6. Chip away at sleep debt
Napping for less than 20 minutes improves attentiveness and performance without leaving you feeling dazed or interfering with night-time sleep.
7. I love me, myself and I
Buy a bunch of red roses for yourself – it’s medicinal. Looking at something crimson has been shown to make your muscles move faster and work harder, giving you a shot of energy.
If you’re dwindling, wear something red and you’ll reap the mood-boosting benefits.
8. Get moving
Do-able five-minute bursts of exercise throughout the day will make a difference.
9. Reboot your bedtime regime
It’s the quality not just the quantity of your sleep that will guarantee you wake up energised. Practise good sleep hygiene; iit’s imperative to do the same things each night to tell your body it’s time to wind down. You could also dim the lights in your room an hour before sleep to transition from light to darkness.
10. Laugh yourself to joy
Nothing works faster to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. It gives the heart a workout, equips the lungs with oxygen, kindles the brain, stimulates the immune system, prompts the release of endorphins and curbs stress hormones. Take a tip from laughter yoga and just fake it. Your body can’t discriminate between unadulterated and artificial laughter, so you’ll end up feeling happier even if you just pretend.
Q: I’ve recently moved to the Middle East from Europe and am concerned about sun damage to my skin, though I would like to get a tan. Surely it’s OK to sunbathe early on in the year before it gets really hot?
The new NICE guidance advises us to always wear sun protection with a factor of at least SPF 15 when out in the sun and clarifies that we should apply roughly six to eight teaspoons of lotion to cover the body. Furthermore, using SPF 30 sunscreen or higher does not necessarily mean you can spend more time in the sun without the risk of burning.
Recent clinical studies of new liposomal sun protection products show sustainable effects against skin cancer. Since, in the majority of sunscreens, the amount of detectable sun-protection factor considerably falls below protection labelled on the bottle, applying endonuclease products, the next big thing, actively supports the skin’s repair mechanism and minimises the effects of sun damage.
If you have a question for Dr Jinan, please email email@example.com