What can get in the way of our sleep?
Poor sleep hygiene
The habits we entertain before bed and even during the day can greatly impact the quality and quantity of our sleep.
These may include eating close to bedtime, alcohol consumption, caffeine later in the day, bright lights, and electronic use.
Poor sleep environment
The environment that we sleep in also greatly impacts our sleep. Try to reserve your bedroom for sleep only, and not things like work. Make it your very own relaxing sanctuary with cozy decor, dimmed lights, and comfortable bedding to make it as inviting for sleep as possible. It is best to avoid bright lights, keep the temperature cool, invest in good bedding, and keep the noise down if possible.
We all know the feeling of being wired at bedtime and unable to turn off our thoughts. Stress has a profound impact on sleep and can keep you up later than anticipated. Chronic stress can dysregulate the circadian rhythm and HPA axis, messing with hormones such as melatonin and cortisol, and making us feel more alert at bedtime when we should be feeling tired.
Micronutrient status has been associated with sleep quality and duration as many vitamins and minerals are implicated in the sleep cycle. These nutrients may include calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K.
Lack of physical activity
The human body is meant to move, daily. Sedentary lifestyles have become the norm in our society and as a result, our bodies are not getting the exercise they need. When we get sufficient physical exercise during the day this helps us sleep better at night. Prolonged sedentary behavior and reduced physical activity have been associated with an increased risk of insomnia.
Foods that help to support a good night’s sleep
Kiwi fruit: may help you to fall asleep faster due to its anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to increase serotonin, a sleep hormone that is related to our REM sleep. Low levels of serotonin can contribute to insomnia.
Turkey: we are all familiar with the effects of turkey at Thanksgiving! This is because turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that increases the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone.
Spinach: this leafy green is full of sleep-promoting nutrients. An easy way to incorporate spinach before bed is to blend it with a bit of almond milk and banana for a small, nutrient-dense nightcap. This light snack won’t cause any digestive upset or disrupt your sleep.
Bananas: this versatile fruit is an excellent source of potassium and magnesium that helps put your body into a sleepy state by helping with muscle relaxation. Bananas also contain tryptophan, which helps create calming and sleep-regulating hormones.
Cherries: a naturally high source of melatonin, our sleep-inducing hormone, cherries can be a great snack in the evening to help you fall asleep faster.
Almonds: a good source of melatonin and magnesium, both needed for optimal sleep and to help your muscles relax. Almonds also contain calcium, which helps the brain convert tryptophan into sleep-inducing melatonin.
Raw Honey: it provides easy-to-access fuel for your brain throughout the night. And it restocks your liver’s glycogen to help you stay asleep.
Wild Salmon: a good source of protein but also a variety of nutrients that have been shown to promote a good night’s sleep such as omega 3 fats, vitamin B6, and vitamin D.
Coconut Oil: contains MCT which is a fuel source for the brain but can also help to keep your blood sugar more stable during the night. Coconut oil also contains high amounts of lauric acid, which has been linked with more restful sleep.
Sweet Potato: provides gentle and easy to digest carbohydrates and the muscle-relaxing mineral, potassium.O
Tips and strategies
- Avoid electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime
- Use blue light blocking glasses or the red light option on your phone if you have to use electronics
- Develop a bedtime routine that is enjoyable and relaxes you such as meditation, colouring, bath, or restorative yoga
- Create a relaxing sleep environment that is inviting and peaceful, avoid eating or working in your bed!
- Avoid eating 2 hours before bed if you can to optimize your circadian rhythm and improve your quality of sleep
Aim to bed in bed by 11PM
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon/evening
Get moving during your day and avoid high intensity exercise in the evening
- Eat foods that promote good sleep
What’s included in Snooze?
- Chinese Hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida)Chinese hawthorn has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), but more recently, a new 2018 study discovered that this unique berry can help fight stress and prevent stress hormone-induced depression while boosting mood.
Valerian root contains a variety of different compounds, one being valerenic acid. It has been shown to inhibit the breakdown of GABA in the brain, resulting in feelings of calmness and tranquility. Low levels of GABA due to acute and chronic stress are linked to anxiety and bad sleep.
L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in tea and is often used to help reduce stress and cortisol. Research shows that L-theanine can promote healthy alpha-wave production in the brain, which results in a state of relaxation when taken before bedtime.
Passionflower has traditionally been used as a relaxation and calming agent. Research studies show that it can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep by boosting levels of GABA in the brain.
- GABA (Gamma-Aminobutryic Acid)
GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps nerve impulses communicate. In the central nervous system, GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter and is known to exert sedative effects. GABA is also involved in regular healthy hormone production in the body.
- Magnesium Glycinate
Magnesium glycinate is a highly bioavailable, chelated form of magnesium and does not cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Magnesium helps prepare your mind and body for sleep. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for getting you calm and relaxed. Magnesium also regulates melatonin and interacts with GABA, the inhibitory neurotransmitter.
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