Anyone else finding it difficult to sleep at the moment or having crazy lucid dreams? Well you're not alone and with an aim to help we did some research on how nutrition can impact our sleep. And here are our findings and tips on how to get back to having the deep and restorative sleep that you deserve.
DOES WHAT WE EAT EFFECT OUR SLEEP?
In short, what we eat can have a big effect on how we sleep in terms of the duration, the amount we wake up, and the quality. There are certain dietary patterns that can affect us positively or negatively. Not only with our energy throughout the day, but also the quality of our night-time sleep.
Take those who have a high calorie, low nutrient-dense, and particularly high fatty foods diet for example. Studies show that these people experience much shorter sleep than a group of people in the study who consumed a variety of food groups and nutrients including fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
TOP 5 FOODS/DRINKS THAT IMPACT OUR SLEEP
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen which means it adapts to the body’s stressors. It is a wonderful herb for calming effects and has been shown to regulate the circadian rhythm, reduce anxiety and aid a deeper sleep. 1 hour before bed try this recipe: 1 tsp Ashwagandha, powder, 1 cup oat milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp coconut oil – simmer on the hob for 5 minutes.
2. Tryptophan Rich Foods
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is found in foods such as tuna, bananas, nuts, dates, figs, yogurt, and whole grains. Now tryptophan has a very important role in sleep as it induces the hormone Melatonin which regulates sleep. Your body should produce the most melatonin in the evening, which tells you its bedtime and makes you feel sleepy
3. Cherry Juice
Cherries are extremely high in melatonin. Many studies have examined the effect of cherries and specifically, tart cherries on sleep regulation. Studies show that the consumption of 8 ounces of tart cherry juice for just 2 weeks is associated with a significant reduction in insomnia.
4. Herbal Tea
There are specific herbal teas that work to calm down the nervous system and promote restorative sleep. These include chamomile which can be used as a mild sedative to calm nerves, Valerian which is shown to improve sleep quality, and Passionflower to reduce sleep disturbances.
5. Removing Stimulants
You may think that a bedtime nightcap will send you off to sleep but alcohol, as well as tobacco and caffeine, are actually stimulants so will keep your brain active throughout the night. This can then result in frequent night-time awakenings. For a good night’s sleep, avoiding these in the evening is a must.
WHICH VITAMINS & MINERALS CAN AFFECT OUR SLEEP?
Magnesium is able to help you wind down at night as it regulates the neurotransmitters involved in the sleep process. Studies show that using magnesium supplements improves the efficiency of sleep by increasing the amount of time you sleep, enabling you to fall asleep quicker, and reducing early morning awakening.
Studies show a strong link between B6 and improved sleep and that a deficiency of B6 promotes psychological distress and sleep disturbances. B6 is involved in the production of the important melatonin so it is essential to induce sleep.
The intake of calcium is associated with an improved ability to fall asleep and increased restorative sleep. Studies found that in some cases of sleep disturbances calcium deficiency was related.
* It's best to speak to your health professional before taking new supplements*
WHAT IS A GOOD BEDTIME ROUTINE?
1. Start with a tryptophan-rich dinner. Think of a protein source along with whole grains and veggies.
2. Turn off all computers, TV’s and phones at least an hour before bed. The LED from screens (blue light) can disrupt the circadian rhythm and cause sleep dysfunctions.
3. Set the mood for your bedtime sleep routine by lighting a candle or using a diffuser with essential oils. Studies have proved the benefits of using aromatherapy to improve sleep. We love the Soothe essential oil and Soothe candle as they have been designed specifically for sleep and are blended with lavender essential oil to relax the body, geranium to balance and eucalyptus to clear the mind.
4. Make yourself a warm cup of herbal tea such as chamomile, valerian, passionflower or whip up an ashwagandha latte to calm the nervous system and prepare you for bed.
5. Run a warm bath with 2 cups of salts and soak for at least 20 minutes. Salts are a form of magnesium so will relax the muscles. Double up on the relaxation massaging the salts onto your body.
6. Try some deep breathing. Breathing exercises before bedtime have been shown to promote better sleep as it acts as a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.
7. Ensure the room is completely dark and quiet. Opt for an eye mask or blackout blind if you have light in your room. Melatonin is stimulated by darkness, so this is essential!
So here we have it, the Yougi sleep routine. Now, remember, this is the sleep routine which is of course not achievable for everyone every night with the busy lifestyles and schedules that we live.
However, I urge you to try this routine a couple of times per week or at least try a few of the points and see how much of an effect it will have on your sleep!