Sleep is something that is so vital for our health yet so many of us cut back on it in a frantic attempt to fit more into the day, due to the pressures of a busy life. Many others are suffering with sleep problems for various reasons but thankfully there are plenty of things we can do to help. Sleep disorders are different and not covered here, as they are medical conditions, eg sleep apnoea.
It’s really important for us to get the balance right between activity and rest in our lives! Sleep has regenerative effects and lack of it affects energy, moods, blood sugar levels, pain, memory and learning, among other things.
We all need different amounts of sleep but getting quality sleep is what matters. We cycle in and out of REM sleep 4 times a night. REM makes you dream! Some people don’t get into REM so wake unrefreshed and some people come out of REM and wake up instead of going back into another REM and then can’t get back to sleep.
Melatonin, a hormone, is released when it gets dark. It makes us feel drowsy and affects our circadian rhythms so is vital for sleep!
Common sleep problems:
- Difficulty getting to sleep
- Poor quality sleep – waking up un-refreshed, waking up with the slightest noise
- Waking up in the night and not getting back to sleep
10 Top Tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Turn off all electrics (eg phones, lap top, routers). Blue light from screens interferes with melatonin.
- Don’t drink caffeine beyond midday or at least 3-4 hrs before bed.
- Ensure room is completely dark – use black out blinds/curtains, turn off all lights.
- Start the winding down process 1- 2 hrs before you want to sleep. Eg switch off the TV, put away work, turn off the laptop!
- Don’t have sugary foods late at night, as it causes an imbalance in blood sugar levels which can wake you up.
- Try having tryptophan foods in the evening. Eg Oats, turkey, dates, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Tryptophan converts to serotonin and then to melatonin.
- Don’t drink alcohol late at night (as it wears off it has a stimulatory effect, often at 3am ‘ish)
- Avoid/limit day time naps. If you do, make sure it’s before 3pm, no more than 30-45 minutes.
- Regular, daily exercise promotes sleep and the endorphins released help reduce stress. However, be careful with high intensity exercise late in the evening as it can raise cortisol levels (same hormone that is released when we’re under stress).
- Go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time, every day. Have a night time ritual that you can stick to eg a relaxing herbal drink, reading a book in bed.
What can we take?
We’ve got lots of lovely products in the shop that can support sleep. Here are a few that customers have given us great feedback on:
- Viridian’s Cherry Night powder. You make it into a drink 1hr before bed
- A.Vogel’s Dormesan – these are herbal drops which you take in a little water before bed or in the night when wake up (or both).
- Pukka’s Night Time capsules.
All of us in the shop find magnesium of great benefit and helpful when taken in the evening, to help the body relax. The following magnesium supplements are very popular:
- Viridian’s Magnesium Citrate
- LifeStream’s Magnesium capsules or powder
- Solgar’s Magnesium Citrate
For some people a homeopathic remedy works well, and are useful for those who don’t want to swallow a capsule.
- Helios – Sleep 30c pillules.
For those who find they can’t switch off at night, taking something with theanine in can be really helpful. Theanine is calming and has anti-anxiety effects. Again these products have had great feedback:
- Viridian’s L-Theanine & Lemon Balm
- BioCare’s NT Intensive
- Solgar’s Theanine – 1 capsule before bed
- TEAS: Pukka – Night Time / Celestial Seasonings – ‘Sleepy Time’ or ‘Sleepy Time Extra’ / Clipper – Sleep Easy’
- Topical sprays: Better You Magnesium Spray (Original or Night Time) – spray directly on (clean) skin
- Bath salts: Better You Magnesium flakes or traditional Epsom Salts – magnesium is absorbed through the skin. These are deeply relaxing. Go to bed straight afterwards!
- Wheat pillow: Tisserand’s Lavender wheat pillow – heat in microwave + put around shoulders as you relax in bed.
SOURCES: A Vogel, Bio Care, Pukka
I’m Alison and I’m a Nutritional Therapist. I love encouraging people to try healthy foods and to show them how simple, quick and easy it is to eat healthily. I’m a busy mum with 2 children, one of whom has a disability and special needs, so meals have to be easy! I love getting my veggie box each week, baking healthy treats and being out in the countryside.