How many of us dream of getting a good night’s sleep? For at least 40% of the UK population, sleep can often be a struggle, and things have become much more challenging over the last couple of years, for obvious reasons.
However, peaceful slumbers don’t need to just be in your dreams. There are a few things that you can do to help get a better nights’ sleep, which will in turn support your energy levels throughout the day.
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top tips on getting a good night’s sleep.
Review your diet
If you want great sleep, it’s important to eat right during the day. A diet that’s rich in low to medium foods on the glycaemic index, which includes whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and starchy vegetables, is the way forward. These will help to keep the body in good balance and encourage it to rest.
Foods lower on the glycaemic index also provide sustained energy throughout the day, without spiking blood sugar levels. This means you’ll avoid those highs and lows, but also feelings of anxiety which often accompany blood sugar imbalances. Anxiety is certainly not helpful when you are trying to get to sleep.
Keep it regular
This means adopting a regular routine. The body loves routine, so keeping regular sleep and waking times is essential for maintaining a healthy sleep pattern. Generally, we need seven to nine hours sleep per night, therefore think about what time you need to be in bed depending on when you need to get up, in order to achieve this.
Trying to ‘catch up’ on sleep at weekends tends to push the body out of routine, so this can become a negative strategy. Once you’ve got a routine going, it’s amazing how well the body will adapt.
Keep calm with magnesium
The mineral magnesium is often referred to as ‘nature’s natural tranquiliser’ because it has a calming effect on the body, down to its work as a muscle relaxant. Poor sleep, with long periods of tossing and turning during the night is often associated with magnesium deficiency. Plus, stress further depletes magnesium levels in the body.
The good news is that magnesium is found in whole grains and foods that are also low on the glycaemic index. Plus, green leafy vegetables are your friends in this respect too. So, load up on broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and spinach. This will help to keep the body calm and balanced and able to rest and relax.
Consider trying adaptogen herbs
Stress is obviously going to impact our sleep patterns. And whilst we can’t eradicate all stress from our lives, we can take steps to support the body during stressful times by using adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens, as the name suggests, bend and flex to meet the body’s needs. Herbal adaptogens primarily relieve stress by working on the adrenal glands from where the body releases stress hormones.
The adaptogenic herb ashwagandha has long been studied for its benefits on sleep, with a recent trial further confirming its effectiveness. If stress and anxiety are effectively managed because stress hormone levels are balanced, then many sleep issues can be resolved. The herb Rhodiola rosea is another adaptogenic herb, which can help the body get through stressful times, and in turn aid restful sleep.
Reduce caffeine and sugar intake
As we all know, caffeine is a stimulant which frequently impacts on getting a good night’s sleep. For those of us who are especially sensitive to caffeine even having one high-caffeinated drink during the afternoon can have a detrimental effect on peaceful slumbers. Plus, ‘decaf’ drinks still contain a small amount of caffeine unfortunately.
Caffeine, and especially coffee, can cause more anxiety generally; often we don’t realise the overall effect on the body. If you’re struggling to get some rest, then it’s really worth cutting out all caffeine for a week and seeing if things improve.
Sugar is also a stimulant so be mindful of overall sugar intake too. Sugary snacks are going to send blood sugar levels up and the body’s overall balance will be upset. Try to keep the diet as ‘clean’ as possible and follow some of these simple strategies. Improvements can be felt really quickly in many cases.
So, try some of these strategies to help you get a better night’s sleep.
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