This week I am covering sleep with a few simple tips to help you get more sleep, improve the quality of your sleep and bring you up to speed with a sleep aid that is meriting a lot of interest.
For one week, go to bed at the same time every night and set your alarm to go off at the same time every morning (including weekends) and make a mental or scribbled note of any changes in your sleep pattern. Research shows that habit is one of the most important things we should focus on for better and more restorative sleep. Have a relaxing bath with Epsom Salts and a few drops of lavender oil before bed, don’t watch TV or work on your laptop/iPad etc in bed, make sure the bedroom is dark or wear a sleep mask andsettle down to go straight to sleep (no reading this week!). And when the alarm goes off in the morning, get up immediately – don’t press the snooze button!
Ensure your evening meal is rich in protein foods that offer good levels of the amino acid, tryptophan which encourages the production of the calming neurotransmitter, serotonin (turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, beans, lentils) and have plenty of green vegetables alongside and drizzle some walnut, avocado, flax seed and/or olive oil on your vegetables after steaming/roasting/stir frying for a dose of good fats to help fill you up and enhance the production of serotonin.
You don’t need starchy carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, pasta, rice etc) at this time of the day as they may encourage blood sugar spikes which can prompt a blood sugar dip during the night and see you waking and unable to get back to sleep.
If you exercise in the evening, do it no less than 3 hours before bedtime and have your evening meal no less than 45 minutes afterwards and if it was fairly strenuous, add some brown rice or a baked sweet potato to the above.
The juice from tart Montmorency cherries has been shown in several studies to improve sleep quality in a matter of days! This is believed to be firstly, because tart cherries contain melatonin, the hormone that controls our sleep/wake cycle and secondly because they improve how the body uses the tryptophan content of the protein foods we eat which promote the production of serotonin and ultimately, melatonin. 30ml twice a day (one around midday, the other an hour before bed) is the recommended dose at time of writing. Cherry Active is a good product and is widely available on the internet and from good health shops.