5 Top nutritional tips to improve your sleep.
Guest-blog written by Marta Holman
Nutrition for women that would aid in in sleeping better.
It is not a secret that we need a good night sleep to feel great, physically and mentally. Sleep is essential for good health. It is a FACT. Sleep also has restorative effect on the immune and endocrine system, it has a role in memory and learning and it can also impact recovery from injuries and training sessions. Sleep is a BIG deal.
When we sleep our body is healing itself.
Quality of sleep is closely linked to our food choices. Studies show that lack of sleep increases cravings. No wonder we reach for the coffee and biscuits when our sleep quality is poor.
However, it is not just your food choices that affect your beauty sleep. The most common include: stress, hormones, thyroid problems (compromised thyroid health can affect melatonin production, the hormone needed for sleep onset) and nutrient deficiencies.
Good sleep hygiene also plays a BIG role (DM me for a free handout on sleep hygiene @ firstname.lastname@example.org). If you suffer from poor sleep, establishing the root cause of the problem is crucial. Sleeping tablets will just mask the symptom, but if you do not address the root cause of the problem you may never get your sound sleep back
Here are my 5 top nutritional tips to improve your sleep:
- Balance your blood sugar. This is the foundation of good health and sound sleep. This can be done by including protein, fat and fibre at each meal and removing processed and excessively sweet foods, added sugars, sodas and fruit juices. There is no magic pill to help you with sleep if your blood sugar looks like a roller coaster ride. Blood sugar spikes and dips will affect your energy levels and sleep quality. Getting the basics right is very important. Start with a protein, fat and fibre rich breakfast. For examples eggs with avocado and baked sweet potato. For vegan option try chia seeds pudding with a full fat coconut milk and fresh berries
- Include foods that contain melatonin. Melatonin (the hormone that controls our sleep cycle) is known to improve sleep disorders. Tart cherry juice (unsweetened), cranberries, rice (black and red), oats, almonds. When it comes to animal based foods, fish and eggs contain more melatonin than meat
- Avoid foods that impair sleep such as excess of sugar, caffeine and alcohol, yes it may seem too obvious but they can all wreak havoc on our sleep.
- Include omega 3 rich foods such as oily fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon), walnuts, flax seeds as a diet deficient in omega 3 can negatively impact on sleep. Omega 3 is one of the essential fatty acid we need to obtain from our diet, another one is called omega 6 and we tend to have it in excess in our diet, think all commercially baked goods, fast foods, seeds oils used to cook/fry. The ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is very important and can be tested and corrected. The imbalance between omega 3 and omega 6 is associated with many chronic inflammatory diseases such as IBS, RA and cardiovascular disease
- Include these calming teas at bedtime: holy basil, camomile and lavender. If you are peri or menopausal drinking sage tea during the day and at night may also help (it is a great herb for hot flushes)
Sometimes nutrition may not be enough. Stress plays a huge role too. Stress comes in many shapes and forms, it can be physical or mental. The past 18 months have definitely tested our stress levels. Poor diet and high alcohol consumption are also stressors to our bodies. Stress depletes nutrients needed for good sleep such as magnesium, zinc, vitamin Bs and vitamin C
Do not forget about sun exposure, get outside during the day. Our body follows the circadian rhythm which follows the sun. The exposure to the sun is needed to make melatonin.
The above list of reasons for poor sleep is not complete and nutritional advice given is general. Each case is individual and each person will need a personalised nutritional and supplement programme approach.
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Masters Degree awarded Nutritionist Marta Holman. Helping people live a better life with personalised nutrition support and advice. Chronic illnesses, weight struggles, poor sleep, ADHD and lack of energy can all be improved with optimal nutrition.