Ahh, I love this time of the day (or rather night). The work is all done, the kids are in bed and I finally get to relax in my own bed, usually with a book. However, there were times when I dreaded going to bed, knowing that I would struggle to fall asleep or wake up at 3am with no hope of falling asleep again.
Many people suffer from insomnia, which can affect concentration, memory, motor skills, social interactions and can lead to health problems including low immune function, heart disease, diabetes and weight gain.
There are different reasons why someone struggles to get a good night’s sleep. Lets’s look at some of them:
TV / Computer / Phones
Watching TV before bed cannot only overstimulate you, but the light from the TV (or computer/phone) prevents your body from producing melatonin, your sleep hormone.
Turn off any screen 1 hour before bed. If you need to use your computer at night, install f.lux, which changes the colour to a more natural, less stimulating peachy colour. (https://justgetflux.com/)
Is your mobile phone next to your bed? I recommend you keep it somewhere else. If you must have it next to you, turn off wifi and put it onto aeroplane mode.
Soak up some sunlight during the day. Go for a short walk in the morning and ditch your sunglasses for 10-15 minutes – this will support your melatonin production at night.
An improper diet full of caffeine & high fat or sugar affects your cortisol and blood sugar levels and thus sleep quality.
Avoid caffeine after lunch - found in coffee, chocolate and black tea.
Do not eat tyramine foods before bed (tomatoes, eggplant, soy sauce, red wine, smoked meats, sausage, fish, chocolate and aged cheeses.) Tyramine triggers the brain to release norepinephrine, a stimulant that boosts brain activity and delays sleep.
A glass of wine before bed may help you doze off quicker, however it disrupts sleep later in the night and robs you of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Avoid foods high in sugar, which can spike your cortisol and cause a blood sugar level too low at night.
Don’t eat too late. Allow 2-3 hours for your body to digest before you go to sleep.
Eat light meals for dinner.
Ensure to include foods with protein and fibre for dinner.
A diet rich in minerals especially magnesium and calcium promotes good nerve function and sleep.
Instead of a second cup of coffee, why not have green tea instead? Theanine, found in green tea, helps to reduce stress and anxiety which may be a reason for poor sleep.
Irregular sleeping routine
A consistent routine will help your internal circadian biological clock.
Having a bath, reading a good book or listening to some calming music can be a great way to unwind and get your body & mind ready for a good rest.
Still not sleepy?
Try some herbal remedies such as chamomile, valerian and passionflower. If you have them as a tea, don’t drink your tea too late to avoid having a full bladder at night.
If insomnia impacts you personally and you want more help about improving your sleep book your appointment here.