Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

September 16, 2017
Lyndall McAlpine

I sometimes find myself up at all hours, mostly from a busy mind and sometimes I think even from having a cup of tea after dinner (I’m that sensitive to caffeine).

That’s all good if you are able to sleep in, but if not it’s hard to function the next day (reminds me of those zombie motherhood days!!!).  If this is a continual occurrence for you, you may be feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day and actually affecting your overall health in serious ways.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.

People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, not to mention effects like hormone imbalance, and inflammation.

Lack of sleep can have big impact on your mood, memory and decision-making skills also, and (gasp!) the amount of sleep directly correlates to your metabolism, weight gain or weight loss.

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it. The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing. Knowing this, it’s easy to see the

three main purposes of sleep:

  1. To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
  2. To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, this is technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
  3. To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need?  It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. Try not to skimp!

Tips for a better night’s sleep

  1. Firstly,

    Get yourself into a consistent sleep routine

    and make sleep a priority for a few weeks. Start 1 hour before your “lights out” time – that’s at least 8 hours before your alarm is set to go off. Have a relaxing bedtime routine such as:
    • having a hot bath (to increase your core body temperature, then when your temp consequently drops it signals your body that you are ready to sleep) – add some magnesium salts and lavender for extra relaxation,
    • doing some easy stretches,
    • diaphragm breathing (activates your rest and repair parasympathetic nervous system),
    • listening to some soothing music or
    • reading a “real” book not “ebook” (preferably a light fiction) with a low voltage non-bluelight source, speaking of which…..
  2. NO screen time!

    Blue light in particular can affect sleep. It
    boosts attention, reaction times, and mood and is a potent  suppressor of melatonin – great for day time but not for trying to sleep! Even go to the lengths of taping some red paper over the electronic clock (yellow, orange or red light does not effect melatonin production as badly). If for some reason you absolutely have to be on your computer, I’ve read this app F.lux  reduces the blue light from computer screens.
  3. Get some sunshine and exercise

     during the day. The sunshine boosts our levels of happy neurotransmitter serotonin, which in turn is converted to melatonin when light dims. Sunshine and exercise tell our body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening and also helps with melatonin production.
  4. Get plenty of Protein

    Foods like meats, eggs, nuts and seeds which contain the amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid is a  precursor to Serotonin
  5. Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm

    Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind more active than you want it to be come evening. Whole foods like fruits are fine, it’s the “added” sugar that’s a problem insoooo many ways. Yes, this includes sweetened teas  (I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe without the sickly sweet powdered or syrup for you below).
  6. Grab a notebook

    and write down everything you are thinking about before you go to bed. Keep it handy because if you are like me you will think of the most important things as you are trying to drift off. Once it is out of your head and on paper you can let go and relax.
  7. Back down on alcohol

    You may think that a night cap helps to get to you to sleep but studies show after continued consumption, the alcohol’s sedating effects is reduced and the effects to disrupt sleep in the second half of the sleep period increases

Nutrients and Supplements that may help

  1. Magnesium

    relaxes muscles and can help with a good sleep as well as help with anxiety, cramps and constipation. Some foods rich in magnesium are oats, brown rice, spinach, banana. You can add magnesium flakes to your nightly bath or increase intake with supplements. Magnesium is best taken with calcium 1:1 ratio and with vitamin D
  2. Melatonin 

    is a hormone produced by your pineal gland responsible for regulating your body’s circadian rhythm (sleep patterns). Your body’s melatonin levels rise with the darkness of night, calming and signalling your body that it’s time to sleep. Melatonin levels may be low due to stress, exposure to too much light at night, not getting enough natural light during the day, shift work and smoking. You can get melatonin at heath food shops or chemist.
  3. GABA

     is an amino acid which acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system for feelings of calm and relaxation. Low levels of GABA are known to interfere with deep sleep. You can get melatonin at Naturapath, heath food shops or chemist. Vitamin B6 assists GABA synthesis and some GABA supplements have Vit B included.

I hope these tips help you, I would love to know your tips for a good nights sleep.

Here’s a caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”

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