Nutrition for a better night's sleep
Do you struggle to get to sleep some nights? Or wake frequently during the night?
Here are some dietary and lifestyle changes that can help.
Don’t go to bed hungry. Get into the habit of having a small snack before you go to bed. Good examples would be peanut butter on toast or hummus and oatcakes or some yoghurt with a tablespoon of seeds or five or six nuts. This helps to keep your blood sugar levels balanced during the night. If you blood sugar levels drop too low, this can cause you to wake up.
Include plenty of magnesium-rich foods in your diet. Good sources are whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts. Magnesium helps us to relax and you need to eat even more when you are feeling stressed (which in turn affects sleep).
Swap caffeine-containing tea and coffee for glasses of water and herbal teas in the afternoons and evenings. Caffeine is a known stimulant so it will keep you awake. Chamomile tea is great for aiding relaxation in the evenings. Reduce your caffeine intake gradually, especially if you are drinking it frequently.
Get outside and move your body each day even if it’s just a walk round the block at lunchtime or taking advantage of the lighter evenings with some gardening or a walk round your local park with a friend. Our bodies (and minds) are not designed to sit indoors all day at a desk followed by more sitting in the evenings! We need some natural light, fresh air and activity every day in order to rest well at night.
Get into a routine in the evenings before you go to bed. Warm baths are great as it causes your body temperature to rise and then fall which makes you feel relaxed and sleepy. Have a cut-off time for using computers, phones and watching TV and go to bed at the same time every night. Allow a little relaxation time before you go to bed to read or maybe give yourself a foot massage.
Write down any issues that are worrying you or causing you to feel stressed (which may be keeping you awake) then work through each one and decide what you can do to solve the problem or improve the situation.
If you would like extra support and advice on eating to improve your sleeping habits, a nutritionist can help.