Eat your way to a better night’s sleep

For many people, this time of year is quite stressful and can lead to occasional sleeping issues; be it difficulty falling asleep or frequent or early waking. And as we all know lack of sleep can make you feel pretty terrible. It’s hard to concentrate, make decisions and cope with small setbacks that would otherwise be manageable and you reach for comfort food to give yourself a boost because you just feel too tired to cook from fresh. These habits keep you in a poor sleep-exhaustion cycle.

If you wake up during the night or very early it could be related to a drop in your blood sugars in the night, or other changes in your normal eating patterns and daily routines.

Eat to improve your sleep

  • Balance blood sugars – If you wake up due to blood sugar falling, often after drinking alcohol, it might help to ditch the simple carbohydrates (white bread, white pasta, potatoes, white rice) at your evening meal and replace them with complex carbohydrates (think sweet potato, wholemeal pasta). It may also help to eat a small protein and carbohydrate snack an hour before bed such as 10 almonds and 10 grapes to maintain consistent blood glucose and stop that dip that might wake you up.
  • Build up your hormones – Serotonin helps to us to get to sleep by producing melatonin, our sleep hormone. To make enough serotonin we need tryptophan rich foods such as turkey, eggs, pulses or bananas. Also get some daylight during the day with a walk outside if you can, to help reset your circadian rhythm.
  • Ensure adequate magnesium intake – Some studies have shown that taking a magnesium supplement can help reduce night time waking, early morning waking and improve how refreshed you feel in the morning. Magnesium is essential for muscle relaxation and can help you wind down and it is depleted by alcohol. Include magnesium rich foods during the day like leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard, coriander; seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds; quinoa, cashew nuts and black beans.

Tips For Better Sleep

  • Avoid any stimulants such as caffeine from at least 6 hours before going to bed.
  • Limit refined sugars. Also avoid heavy meals late at night because you’ll be digesting as you sleep and you need to give your digestive system a rest.
  • Make sure your room is warm but not hot and keep your bedroom well ventilated. Keep lights as low as possible and making sure the room is as quiet and dark as you can make it. Close any gaps in the curtains, try blackout blinds or use an eye mask. This is because light supresses melatonin production, and if our circadian rhythms are knocked out it can affect sleep times and quality.
  • Try different relaxation techniques to find something that suits you – either deep breathing exercises, relaxation apps like Headspace, reading a book or journal writing.
  • Avoid blue screens, including smart phones and tablets, for two hours before bed to help stop the light disrupting your melatonin production. Even if you use f.lux on your PC or change the light settings on your Apple device, the light can still disrupt your sleep patterns.
  • Use aromatherapy oils such as lavender and chamomile in the room and in warm baths.

Have a fabulous festive time everyone and ‘see’ you all again in the New Year x

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