Nutrition | Tips for getting a good night sleep

17/01/2016

Nutrition & lifestyle tips for getting good night sleep via www.fashionedbylove.co.uk british fashion blog
I hope that by the time you finish reading, this article will send you to sleep. Yes, sleep, an activity that takes approximately 26 years of our lives and yet the one we hardly ever pay enough attention to.

The beauty of sleep is in its essence. It helps us relax, rejuvenate, think sharper, feel happier, look younger, stay slimmer and even aid every other ache, pain and imbalance that seem to come from nowhere. Ironically, in time it becomes a vicious circle because any problems caused by lack of sleep keep you awake and make the entire situation worse, but instead of addressing the cause we proudly quote Bon Jovi's "I'll sleep when I am dead" or rely on copious amounts of coffee to get through the day.
Nutrition & lifestyle tips for getting good night sleep via www.fashionedbylove.co.uk british fashion blog
So before we carry on talking about fixing every other nutrition and health issue under the sun, let me share a few diet and lifestyle habits that can re-tune the body clock and improve your sleep because, on a large scale of things, being healthy is impossible without good sleep and good sleep is simply  another biochemical reaction that depends on what we eat (and don't eat) and a few simple habits that control production of hormones (tryptophan, melatonin and even thyroid hormones).

Nutrition tips on how to get better sleep / Magdalena Frackowiak photographed by Giampaolo Sgura for Vogue Paris October 2014 via www.fashionedbylove.co.uk
LIFESTYLE HABITS FOR BETTER SLEEP

Set a regular bed time. Go to be at the same time every night to make the body develop a pattern. Choose the time when you feel naturally tired and sleep, so you won't have to lie in bed wide-awake and frustrated. Weekend is the best time to start the new routine and follow it without changes. Next, ensure that you are in bed at around 22:30-23:00 the latest and help your body adjust, if necessary, by making small changes in small "doses" by moving switching off 10-15 minutes earlier or later every other day. Your goal is to give yourself about 8-8.5 hours of sleep daily.

Wake up the same time every day. If you are getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you find yourself relying on the buzzer rather than your own body clock, you may need to consider an earlier bedtime. Once established, do your best to maintain the regular wake-up time every day of the week.

Power-naps - friend or foe? Some people may find it useful to have a 30-minute nap during the day. For others it may cause insomnia later. Listen to what your body tells you and develop your own rules.

Be sensible with exercises. Exercise or any other physical activity may improve your sleep. However strenuous exercise within two before bed time can decrease your ability to fall asleep. If you feel the need to do something - have an evening walk, practice yoga or pilates.

Relax, take it easy. Some forms of yoga, medication or deep breathing may help relieve anxiety and reduce muscle tension. If you are unsure how to do it, consult a trained professional.

Keep a notepad on your bedside table. If you are one of those people who cannot switch off because there are way too many things and ideas buzzing in your head, use the notepad to write them down and stop your mind racing. 

Keep your room as dark as possible. Use the blackout blinds or curtains to eliminate bright lights from outside - light can affect the body clock and suppress melatonin production by as much as 50 per cent, according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 

Turn off your iPads, iPhones & laptops. I know, it is practically impossible, but, ideally, should be done. Not only the light will play havoc with melatonin levels - the brain will also find it incredibly challenging to switch off after processing all the information on the screen. Still find it difficult? Start by dimming the screen whilst keeping some light in the room and eventually stop using the tablet 20-30 minutes before you doze off.

Get the right bed. A comfortable mattress and pillows are essential for a good quality sleep. If you share a bed with a partner, make sure it is large enough to give both of you enough room to move around. 

Establish a pre-sleep ritual. A warm bath with Epsom or pink salts, a shower or bath with a few drops of your favourite oil, a book or relaxing music, a scented candle or a cup of herbal tea (I swear by tulsi, but chamomile, mint or red bush are good, too), a pair of warm socks for toasty feet - anything that makes you feel relaxed and sleepy is good.

Keep your bedroom temperature comfortable and the room - airy and fresh. While the right temperature and conditions vary from person to person it is a good idea to keep the room cool (not cold!) at night. Best way is to open a window about 30 minutes before bedtime and close it once you are ready to sleep.

Quit smoking. Smokers take longer to fall asleep and tend to suffer from insomnia more than non-smokers.

Watch the weight. Extra pounds can affect your breathing and sleep while fat will have a negative effect of hormone production.

Control the noise. Noises at levels as low as 40 decibels or as high as 70 decibels can keep us awake, but the lack of familiar sounds can have the same effect on our ability to relax. Studies have shown that traffic noises can actually become soothing for longtime city sleepers just as the occasional street sounds can steal the much-needed sleep if you are used to complete silence in the country.

Appreciate the light. Daylight is important for melatonin production and maintaining healthy circadian rythm  of being awake during the day and feeling sleepy at night. Spending some tie outside every day will also help you get a dose of vitamin D, vital for healthy sleep and preventing daytime drowsiness.

Nutrition & lifestyle tips for getting good night sleep via www.fashionedbylove.co.uk british fashion blog
DIET TIPS FOR BETTER SLEEP

Eat food source of tryptophan, an amino-acid important for production of serotonin, sound sleep and relaxation. On the menu are poultry, especially turkey, salmon, lamb, cottage cheese, tofu, eggs as well as bananas, hummus, nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, beans, lentils, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and other wholegrain. These will also supply plenty of B-vitamins and magnesium, also essential for our ability to unwind.

Remember your Omega-3's and get them from oily fish, walnuts, hemp and flax seeds.

Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit to give your body a rainbow of vitamins and minerals.

Avoid anything containing aspartame. The nasty artificial sweetener contains phenylalanine that interferes with production of serotonin and, as a result, may lead to insomnia.

Have a good quality protein at every meal and snack to keep your blood sugar in balance. Read these tips on how to quit sugar habit.

Skip caffeine four to six hours before bedtime. Stick with herbal teas and some green or white tea (it contains l-theanine that may promote relaxation and reduce anxiety) with a little raw lavender honey if you like.

Avoid alcohol at dinner. While it can make you feel sleepy and relaxed at first, give alcohol a couple of hours and it will upset your blood sugar levels and create a wake-up effect.

Have your dinner two to three hours before bed time and watch the size of your portions. Overeating puts extra strain on the digestive system and can keep you awake and uncomfortable at night. If you feel a little peckish later, snack on a small natural yoghurt, a few almonds or a little natural cottage cheese - they contain tryptophan, protein and magnesium.

Sweet dreams!

Photo source: Shutterstock, Magdalena Frackowiak photographed by Giampaolo Sgura for Vogue Paris October 2014, T Magazine / NY Times blog

6 comments:

  1. Dear Natalia, you know even how to have a good sleep. Thanks a lot for sharing the true and helpful tips. Luckily I sleep very well and I'm so thankful for it. The only thing I wish during the workdays that I could sleep in :)
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  2. Some great tips - I need to establish a bed time!!

    T xx

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  3. love the tips! i turn off my phone and put it in another room so there is no temptation!!

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  4. Thanks for the advice! Last night I slept 10 hours and the night before as well :( I really find it hard to go to sleep at night and wake up the next day. Trying to be in bed by 9 pm tonight...

    luxessed

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  5. I think my biggest blunder is turning off all devices! One really has to stop! Because one thing leads to another! I looked up and it was one in the morning. HaHaHa Thanks
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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  6. Must remember to avoid alcohol at dinner, or an evening cocktail. I've found that gin and tonics make me feel wide awake in the wee hours of the morning, just as I should be sleeping. Must be age catching up with me.

    Thanks for these very sensible tips.

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