So sleep is in, but how can you make sure you get a better night of sleep? If you don’t want to use over-the-counter and prescription medications, an essential oil is just one type of all-natural sleep aid you can choose.
Here are 4 ways you should be preparing before bed.
Food for better sleep
"Achieving the ZZZZZZZZZs can be affected by what we eat (especially in the hours before bedtime). Certain foods are known to calm the brain and help promote sleep and others can create physical pain/ discomfort and lead to brain chatter and overstimulation.
Eating the right things in the evening is definitely part of the recipe for a good night’s sleep!
Firstly, I don’t recommend eating a big meal just before bedtime as it can lead to discomfort and indigestion, however some people (including myself) find a small snack a helpful aid to sleep.
I know you balked at the word 'carbohydrates'... but carbs at night make me fat??? Well yes and no. Processed junk food will feed your fatty stores, however >>> Clean carbs not No Carbs!
Carbohydrates like kumara (sweet potato), potatoes, pumpkin and other plant based carbs are an excellent aid in, not only fuelling your body during the day, but also calming down at night. The 'clean carbs' optimise tryptophan levels and help maintain a stable blood sugar level and switch the body from alert adrenaline cycle to rest-and-digest mode. Tryptophan is the amino acid that the body uses to make sleep-inducing serotonin and melatonin, the relaxing neurotransmitters that slow down nerve traffic and stop the brain buzzing. I'm all for that!
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DO BANANAS HELP YOU SLEEP?
Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium which help relax overstressed muscles and make them an ideal go-to snack before bed. They also contain all-important tryptophan to stimulate production of those key brain calming hormones. Eat whole or whizz into a sleep-inducing smoothie.
OTHER FOODS TO HELP SLEEP
Almonds are another winner as they contain magnesium which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation. They have the added benefit of supplying proteins which help maintain a stable blood sugar level while sleeping and switch the body from alert adrenaline cycle to rest-and-digest mode. Try swapping your evening snack to a handful of nuts and mix it up with a yummy evening 'Sleepy drink' (warm mylk, tsp honey & 1 drop of Lavender oil) for a comforting bedtime snack.
FOOD TO AVOID BEFORE BED
Avoid eating a big meal (especially spicy food) just before bedtime as it can lead to discomfort and indigestion. I also keep red meat for early dinners or lunch if practical. Red meat takes such a long time to digest and I find I get a better nights sleep after a light evening meal. I try and have dinner no later than 7pm.
Go easy on processed high carb (bread, pasta and rice) that cause energy crashes and fatty foods as the stimulated acid production in the stomach can lead to heartburn and indigestion. Remember that excess eating leaves you sleepy, but does not help with a good nights sleep.
While grapefruit seems a healthy option, avoid before bedtime. Citrus fruits increase the stomach’s acidity causing heartburn and keeping you up at night.
Equally, limit stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine which reduce sleep quality and prevent you feeling rested.
What to drink before bed?
"Water & Sleep Deprivation Correlation
The primary correlation between water and sleep deprivation is that drinking too much before bed can make you get up to use the bathroom, a condition called “nocturia.” Any interruptions to sleep can disrupt your sleep cycle, making you feel less rested in the morning.
Waking up during the night with the urge to pee can be a condition that’s been identified as nocturia. It’s been well-documented that interrupted and fragmented sleep can lead to fatigue in the morning and can result in sleep deprivation.
WHAT NOT TO DRINK?
Alcohol is commonly used as a sleep aid. However, although alcohol can help a person fall asleep more quickly, the quality of that individual's sleep under the influence of alcohol will be compromised. Ingesting more than one or two drinks shortly before bedtime has been shown to cause increased awakenings—and in some cases insomnia—due to the arousal effect the alcohol has as it is metabolized later in the night. Alcohol also tends to worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea, which will further disrupt sleep in people with this breathing disorder.
If sleep does occur following the intake of caffeine, the stimulant’s effects may persist for some time and can influence the patterns of sleep. For instance, caffeine generally decreases the quantity of slow-wave sleep and REM sleep and tends to increase the number of awakenings. The duration of its effect depends on the amount of caffeine ingested, the amount of time before sleep that the person ingests the caffeine, the individual’s tolerance level, the degree of ongoing sleep debt, and the phase of the individual’s internal clock.
HYDRATION & SLEEP
HYDRATION & SLEEP
A lack of fluids can make you sluggish, irritable, and off your game. But hydration also plays a critical role in how well (or not) you sleep at night. Understanding the impact of your daily fluid intake on your nighttime slumber will go a long way to improving the quality of your sleep.
THE POSITIVE IMPACTS OF HYDRATION
You might not have thought about the effect that H2O can have on your mood. It turns out that as little as a 1.5 percent loss of fluid can result in fatigue, anxiety, mood changes, headaches, lack of motivation, and difficulty concentrating.
It may be interesting to note that by the time the body feels thirsty, it may have already lost up to two percent of bodily fluids, meaning that thirst may not always be the best indication of when and how much to drink.
Move your body
Exercise at the right time, or do the right type of exercise.
Getting plenty of exercise keeps our weight in check, but it can also help with sleep. The downside is that exercising too close to bedtime ramps up metabolism and body temperature and can make it difficult to fall asleep. If you prefer working out at night, try to keep your workout in the evening at least three or four hours away from bedtime. Or, change up the exercise you do—stretching and yoga are perfect to soothe the mind and unwind.