You know how important a good night’s sleep is. For some, it can be quite elusive and it really sucks.
There’s lots of ways you can improve your sleep, including the time it takes to fall asleep, stay asleep and get better quality sleep each night .
A little help with small tweaks to your diet and lifestyle, and specific vitamins and herbal medicine, you’ll be drifting off to the land of nod in no time.
Why sleep is important
Good quality sleep is essential for our health and the way you feel while you’re awake, in part depends on what happens while you’re sleeping.
It helps us restore our bodies physically, and also allows our brain to organise information. In children and teens, it helps with growth and development.
As a result, if you’re not getting enough shut eye, you’ll have slower reaction times, trouble making decisions, lowered productivity, difficulty problem-solving, poor memory and significantly impacted mood.
Furthermore, it will also affect your immune system, cause weight gain and increase inflammation in your body.
Let’s take a look at my favourite herbs, nutrients and dietary and lifestyle tips to get you off to dreamland.
Herbs and supplements for better sleep
This is one of my favourites, not just for sleep, but also for stress. Magnesium is used in over 300 enzymatic reactions, helping to keep the body ticking.
Magnesium helps relax muscles and is important for your nervous system. It helps sleep by relieving muscle cramps, spasms, aches and pains and soothing the nervous system.
The ancients have used Valerian for centuries to relieve insomnia. Valerian induces sleep, and is a gentle sedative to promote relaxation, calm nervous tension and anxiety.
It also helps relieve muscular spasm of the digestive tract, making it very helpful if you suffer from tummy aches, especially from anxiety.
Valerian helps you fall asleep quicker and improve the quality of your slumber, without causing drowsiness the next day.
Best known for its calming effects, research shows lavender essential oil can significantly improve sleep quality.
Adding a few drops of lavender oil to your pillow every evening before bed will help you drift off quicker and get a full night’s rest.
Passionflower is a bright purple flower known for its calming properties. As a result, it helps reduce insomnia, anxiety and irritability.
Popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ziziphus is a sedative and tonic used for insomnia, irritability, stress and pain, as well as for reducing restlessness.
California poppy, with its distinct bright yellow flower, is a traditional medicinal plant of Native Americans. It has traditional use as both an analgesic (pain-reliever) and a mild sedative. It also helps relieve mild anxiety and nervous tension.
Well-known throughout the Pacific Islands, Kava relieves mild anxiety and promotes sleep. It mainly influences the central nervous system, helps relax muscles and offers some pain-relieving action.
Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind. It is most commonly used as a tea to calm nerves and reduce anxiety. It has a gentle action on the nervous system, which makes it ideal for children.
Chamomile is a digestive relaxant and eases gastrointestinal upsets such as flatulence, nausea and colic.
Lifestyle changes for better sleep
- Set a regular bedtime schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine.
- Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep–wake rhythm.
- Switch off devices and screens an hour before your set bed time. The light emitted influences the hormones that help induce sleep.
- Don’t eat heavy meals too late. The digestion required to breakdown the food is an active process which may disrupt sleep.
- Limit stimulants such as caffeine (tea, coffee, cola, chocolate) and nicotine (cigarettes) as they can interfere with sleep. Some people are highly sensitive to these substances and may need to keep their coffee intake for the mornings only. Alcohol also disrupts sleep so it’s best avoided close to bedtime.
- Avoid heavy exercise too close to bedtime as it can also affect your ability to fall asleep.
- Keep your bedroom as a sanctuary for sleep only. Ditch devices and screens like T.V’s., keep your room dark and calm, introduce sleep-inducing plants, and keep your room cool (18C is considered ideal).
- Avoid drinking too much liquid close to bed time, in order to prevent the need for toilet trips throughout the night.
- Minimise naps throughout the day and try to include some physical exercise each day.
- Some people find taking a warm bath close to bed time can be helpful.
Foods to help you sleep
Tart Cherry Juice – is full of antioxidants and also has a high content of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps prepare your body for sleep and regulates your internal body clock.
Bananas – rich in magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6 that are all necessary to help melatonin production. Bananas are also high in tryptophan, which can help promote calmness and sleep.
Almonds – packed full of nutrients including magnesium, which helps you relax and reduce stress, plus it’s another source of sleep promoting melatonin.
Kiwi – this tasty fruit is high in fibre and antioxidants. Kiwi’s sleep inducing effects come from its serotonin content, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep.
Turkey – have you noticed you feel very sleepy after a Christmas turkey dinner? That’s because turkey contains the sleep promoting amino acid tryptophan, and is high in protein which can help you feel full. Together they make a winning sleep combo.
Fatty Fish – the best source of omega-3 fatty acids and also rich in vitamin D, which can help increase serotonin levels in the brain and send you off to dreamland.
Implement these lifestyle changes and sleep inducing foods each day and you’ll see your slumber improve.
Chat to me about other ways I can help you and book in for an individual specialised plan.