A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Conversely, good sleep can help you make better food choices, exercise well and be healthier. Sleep is vital for well-being, mood and longevity. We simply cannot achieve optimal health without enough sleep.
The World Sleep Foundation says we should be aiming for 7-9 hours a night of sleep but we mustn’t forget that the QUALITY of sleep is just as important!
With high levels of stress, fears, uncertainty and changes in routine, many of us may have noticed a change in our sleep, both quality and quantity.
Poor sleep is a very common problem which can be extremely debilitating. Lack of sleep affects men, women and children of any age. You can suffer from lack of sleep at different stages of your life and we can all have trouble sleeping from time to time but, when insomnia persists night after night, it can become a real problem.
The good news is there is a huge amount you can do through diet & lifestyle to optimise your sleep, but here I share a few of my proven tips to help improve your sleep.
My Top 5 Top Tips for a better night’s sleep:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time everyday. Being consistent with your sleep and waking times will help to regulate your natural body clock and support sleep quality.
- Cut out blue light before bed - at least 1 hour before bedtime. The blue light which is emitted from TVs, tablets and mobile phones suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Get outside every day to increase your exposure to natural light - to adjust your internal body clock, known as your circadian rhythm. Your internal body clock (sleep, wake cycle) is your body living in sync with nature and the daylight hours. Also, regular exercise daily can help to improve sleep quality and duration. Getting outside also reduces stress and stress in itself can prevent you from sleeping well.
- Foods for sleeping - to promote sleep and support sleep hormones. Research shows that diet plays a role in sleep as the quality of your diet will directly affect the quality of your sleep.
Try foods packed with these 3 sleep-promoting nutrients in particular:
Magnesium – the key nutrient for sleep, known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ as is a key cofactor for the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter which relaxes the central nervous system. Good sources include dark leafy greens and nuts & seeds (pumpkin seeds are perfect).
Tryptophan – to help raise melatonin levels. Good sources include turkey, chicken, wholegrains, beans, rice, lentils, cottage cheese, bananas, eggs, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin D – vital for a good night’s sleep. There are two main sources, sunlight and foods such as oily fish, egg yolks and mushrooms.
- Avoid alcohol - as alcohol affects the deep stages of sleep and increases wakefulness during the night. It also has a negative impact in the production of melatonin.
* It is important to seek professional help if your lack of sleep is an ongoing concern and it starts to affect your health.