by Nicole Boisvert, certified holistic nutritionist, community engagement coordinator, mom
Sleep, the time of day where we can just let go and rejuvenate our bodies and minds. Of all health topics this is one of the more important ones to really master. Sleep is vital for both our physical and emotional well -being, healthy brain function, regular weight and daily performance and safety. Make a commitment to sleep at least 7.5 hours or more every day. Follow the tips below to honor your need for rejuvenation.
Ten areas to consider:
1. Eat foods rich in tryptophan – Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that increases sleepiness and may decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Those that suffer from insomnia typically see improvements in the time they are able to stay asleep when they increase their tryptophan intake. Focus on eating foods such as: turkey breast, milk, salmon, tuna, apples, bananas, avocados, leafy greens, broccoli, walnuts, ground flax seeds, kidney beans and barley.
2. Drink chamomile herbal tea – Chamomile tea is a traditional remedy for insomnia. Some scientific evidence support the practice of drinking this tea for sleep issues. In addition the actual ritual of drinking a warm beverage before bed is relaxing as well.
3. Drink water instead of coffee or tea – Caffeine from coffee and non- herbal tea can stay in your system for up to 10 hours after consumption disturbing a good nights’ rest. If you go to bed and 9pm be sure not to drink anything with caffeine in it after 11am.
4. Eat your largest meal at midday - Eating big or spicy meals can cause indigestion making it hard to sleep. If you can, avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime. Try a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you are hungry.
5. Try a magnesium supplement – Magnesium plays a key role in quality sleep. Research has shown that even a marginal lack of it can prevent the brain from settling down at night. It is an easy mineral to be low in as poor digestion, diabetes, alcohol, age and certain medications deplete it quickly. Good food sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.
6. Take Vitamin D – Vitamin D has so many positive effects for health. It has been shown to play a role in preventing and treating cancer, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease. Frequently the pain involved in these conditions sabotage good sleep. So get your Vitamin D for a good night’s rest and for the many other beneficial factors it provides. See your health care provider to have your levels tested to determine the correct amount to take for you.
7. Stick to a regular sleeping schedule - Go to bed and wake up at a similar time every day, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body's clock and will help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
8. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual - A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.
9. Exercise daily – Exercise has been found to improve the ability to fall asleep and to sleep longer. The most prominent deduction is that exercise reduces stress and anxiety enabling better sleep. At any rate, exercise is excellent for health in general and a smart thing to incorporate into daily life.
10. Evaluate your room- Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool, free from any noise that can disturb your sleep and free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner's sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, "white noise" machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
And finally, go easy on yourself. Get the rest you need so you can show up refreshed, ready and energized for your life.