Article Provided by Seventh Wave Supplements, the UK's Totally Natural and Additive Free Supplements Company
A good night’s sleep is often a challenge.
We live in a fast paced World, and switching off at night can be tricky; it's all too easy to lie awake thinking and worrying, when all you want is to drift off into a peaceful night.
Whilst some people might reach for the sleeping pills, thankfully, there are some simple solutions to be found in your kitchen cupboard
So here’s a closer look at some natural ways to give your body the best possible chance of getting the rest and relaxation you need.
The Role of Diet in Sleep
Whatever you eat and drink during the day, will have a direct impact on the quality and duration of your sleep. Picking the right foods, and eliminating problem ones is especially important for those who struggle with restless nights or insomnia.
Pack in the Tryptophan
Foods rich in tryptophan are especially important. Tryptophan is converted by enzymes to an amino acid called L-tryptophan, which then produces the brain chemical serotonin. Adequate serotonin levels are absolutely essential if you want a good nights sleep; levels naturally rise as you approach bedtime, but certain foods can give this process a helping hand. Tryptophan is also a precursor of the hormone Melatonin which regulates the sleep / waking cycle.
The Role of Calcium and Magnesium
Warm milk before bed is an old favourite for good reason! Not only is milk rich in tryptophan, but also calcium; both calcium and magnesium play an important role in your body’ ability to relax. If you suffer from night cramps and twitches, then these two vital nutrients may well need boosting. It is thought that the calcium provided by vegetables is absorbed better than that found in dairy products, but milk and other dairy foods can of course contribute to your body’s daily requirements.
Packing your diet with foods rich in calcium and magnesium, is a simple, but highly effective step to improve the quality of your sleeping hours. For balanced amounts of Calcium and magnesium in a food state form (the very best way to supplement), see Chlorella and Barley Grass
Indulge in Some Late Night Carbs
Now we’re not advocating midnight feasts here, and too much food before bed will have the opposite of the desired effect! But, a small snack around an hour before bed is often helpful (around 200 calories would be a good guideline). Enjoying a carbohydrate rich nibble (with some calcium for good measure) can also help boost those tryptophan levels, but make sure it’s not a sugary snack that will play havoc with your sugar levels. Some good examples would be a small piece of bread or crackers and cheese, dates, figs, a banana or a small bowl of cereal with milk. Carbohydrates also moderately stimulate insulin, which helps to clear other amino acids that compete with tryptophan, If you find you get to sleep fairly well, but wake after just a few hours, this may be due to low blood sugar, and a late night snack will be particularly helpful for you. Protein is best avoided as a late night snack as it is difficult to digest.
B is for Bedtime The B-complex may be part of the puzzle for some people. Specifically, some of the B vitamins play an essential role in the production of melatonin, but the whole B complex can play an important role in improving sleep. Coffee, alcohol and certain medications are just some factors that can increase the need for the B Vitamins. See Zell Oxygen Plus for a food state source of the full B Complex.
Work With Your Metabolism
Your main meal should be enjoyed at least two, and preferably four hours before bedtime. Try to get into a pattern with your meal times to give your body a natural rhythm to follow. Eating a large meal close to bedtime stimulates the metabolism and raises your body temperature, neither of which help your body get into sleep mode. Although it’s often not practical for families, it is best to have your largest meal during the day for lunch, and have lighter meals in the evenings. For someone suffering with insomnia, this can be a significant lifestyle change.
Limit High Fat Foods
In 2008, a small, but fascinating study found that a high fat diet played a significant role in sleep patterns. Participants were carefully studied in a sleep lab, and those that consumed lots of fat during the day woke more during the night, tossed and turned more, exhibited more abnormal breathing patterns and spent less time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. (Natural fats in moderation are essential for your overall health and vitality).
Keep caffeine to a minimum
Tea and coffee can play havoc with your sleep, so keep these to a minimum, and perhaps even have a time limit – no tea and coffee after lunch for example can really help matters. Caffeine affects the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma amino butyric) which is responsible for slowing down adrenaline in the evening. Careful With the Nightcaps Many people enjoy a small alcoholic beverage in the evening, and although you may find it helps you to sleep, alcohol actually reduces the overall quality of sleep, so if you enjoy a relaxing tipple, make it a small one, a few hours before bedtime. All fluids should be kept to a minimum before bed to ensure you don’t have interrupted sleep due to bathroom trips.
Other Steps You can Take to Improve Your Sleep
- Exercise will really help, but make sure you are not over active less than three hours before bedtime, Rebounding is a superb exercise to include, suitable for all ages and with broad reaching health benefits
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine, whether it’s a warm bath, relaxing candles, or soft music, find those things that get you in the right state of mind, and make sure you have some peace and quiet
- Don’t watch TV in bed, try to make your bedroom a place of rest and nothing else, so that’s no eating or working in the bedroom either!
- Don’t nap during the day
- If you are struggling to sleep, tossing and turning is the worst thing you can do, get up, read a book or similar then try again
Tryptophan rich foods:
Foods rich in Calcium:
- Dairy products
- Nuts & Seeds
- Beans & pulses
- Fish & poultry
Foods for Magnesium:
- Kidney beans
- Blackstrap molasses
- Dried figs
Foods rich in B Vitamins:
- Swiss chard
- Blackstrap molasses
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Brussels sprouts
- Brown rice