Catch your ZZZZZZ's a Good Nights Sleep
There are so many articles out there on the importance of getting a good night's sleep yet when we can't get a good night's sleep frustration rises and this can often make matters worse.
We all know the importance of sleep so I think I will just skip over the step. What can we do to make our sleep better and that is what we will focus on today.
The Sleep Hormone
Melatonin, the key to sleep. When the sun sets and it gets darker, the pineal is "turned on" by our brains and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood. As a result, melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply and you begin to feel less alert. Sleep becomes more inviting.
The following tips will help Melatonin levels and promote a good nights sleep.
1. Your Sleep Chamber
Your Sleep Chamber
Let's have a look at your sleep chamber. It is important to make it a beautiful, comfortable place that gives you a feeling of calm.
Darkness is the most important key here. Make sure there is minimal light which includes street lights if you have a street light outside your window ensure that you invest in some dark heavy thick curtains to block out that light. This is very important. Wear a sleep mask if you can't block out all of the light. Try not to look at your mobile phone in bed as you go to sleep. Use soft lighting and lamps instead of harsh overhead bulbs.
Shelves above your head
It is also important not have too much mess around your head when you sleep at night so make sure there are no shelving units above your head and that there is not too much mess on the bed that you sleep.
Invest in good pillows
Look at your pillows.... are they comfortable? is your bedding adequate? it is worth spending a little money here. If your neck is bent in any way for an extended period of time, you'll get uncomfortable which will disturb your sleep. There have been various studies on the best pillows depending on your sleep position but everyone is different, the biggest symptom of the wrong pillow is feeling stiffness in the neck during the day and discomfort at night.
2. Liquid Errors
If you love your morning coffee and your afternoon coffee and even your end of day coffee this may be keeping you awake at night due to the caffeine. Aim to have your last cup of coffee at 2 p.m. Also bear in mind that green tea has caffeine in it and again should be consumed before 2 p.m. Try not to drink too much water or liquids a couple of hours before sleep, a full bladder will wake you up in the night.
3. Sugar Highs and lows
The more sugar you eat during the day, the more often you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t fully wake up, the sugar in your system can pull you out of a deep sleep, making you feel exhausted the next day.
Reduce refined sugar, this is found in desserts, boxed fruit juices, breakfast cereals, canned fruits, pasta sauce and most condiments. You'll also find refined sugar in simple carbs (think: white bread, white rice, and regular pasta). Cut back on those foods (and replace them with complex carbs, like whole grains) and you won’t just improve the nutritional value of your food, but also how well you sleep at night.
We all know the importance of magnesium but magnesium helps us to sleep in many different ways. Around 300 mg of magnesium or significantly help with both energy and sleep. Magnesium will also help and support muscle function recovery response energy production hormone balance, a night of restful sleep, nervous system function and general health. Another name for magnesium is " nature's tranquillizer" and is involved in over 600 reactions of the body. However, the average daily magnesium intake for men and women in the UK is below the daily amount recommended by the government. It is believed that over-farming has depleted the minerals in the soil by about 20 to 30% over the last 60 years and so even if we do eat a good amount of fruit and vegetables getting enough magnesium. Magnesium citrate is an all-round well-absorbed form of absorbable magnesium.
L-theanine is an amino acid found most commonly in tea leaves. Now, why would l-theanine help me sleep?
L-Theanine boosts levels of calming brain chemicals such as GABA, serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters, and they work in the brain to regulate emotions, mood, concentration, alertness, and sleep. L-Theanine also enhances alpha brain waves which reduce anxiety and helps you feel relaxed, as though in a 'meditative state'. Alpha waves are also present during REM sleep. L-Theanine can be taken in supplement form an hour before bedtime.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that interacts with those brain chemicals important to sleep and the timing of your biological clock’s sleep-wake cycle. Tryptophan increases serotonin, which also increases melatonin. Tryptophan is especially high in Turkey which is why you feel sleepy after a Christmas dinner! Tryptophan is also found in eggs, should we have eggs for breakfast and not dinner?
7. Passion Flower
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is a plant native to the southern United States, Central and South America and has been known for it’s “calming” effect, helping feelings of stress and anxiety. Passion Flower can be taken as a tea or a tincture an hour before bedtime.
Valerian is a natural herb often used as a natural remedy for insomnia and sleeplessness. It has been used for thousands of years to treat a range of conditions including anxiety and sleeplessness. The active ingredient is found in the root and root branches. You can buy valerian root as a supplement for aiding sleep and relaxation. Take as a tincture or tea an hour before bedtime.
9. Sleep Labs... do you have Sleep Apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is when your breathing stops and starts during sleep, you tend to make gasping, snorting or choking noises and wake up a lot. This leads to fatigue and lack of concentration during the day. You can record yourself sleeping during the night or ask your partner that you share a bed with.
If you believe you have sleep apnoea you can see your GP who will then refer you to a sleep study clinic. At the clinic, you may be given devices that check things like your breathing and heartbeat while you sleep. This will either be in a clinic or at home. The result is based on how often your breathing stops at night. To combat Sleep Apnoea, a CPAP machine may be recommended which will pump air into a mask you wear over your mouth or nose while you sleep.
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