Shakespeare described sleep as ‘Chief nourisher in life’s feast’ – many of us who regularly experience disturbed sleep or insomnia would relate to this statement. Lack of sleep can have a profound effect on health and wellbeing, not only causing us to under-perform in all areas of our daily life but also affecting our body’s ability to repair and maintain itself. It is worth remembering that sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture; a fact to which any parent of a new born will probably testify!
Here are 5 top tricks to help you drift off to the Land of nod:
- Avoid Caffeine and other stimulants – Drinks that include caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks, have a stimulatory effect on the brain reducing the likelihood that your mind and body will be suitably relaxed enough to allow you to drift off to sleep. Replace these with relaxing herbal teas such as camomile, valerian root or passiflora. Reduce your alcohol intake close to bedtime, even though alcohol has a sedative effect, reports suggest that the quality of your sleep is affected by alcohol, leaving you less refreshed in the morning.
- Avoid Tyramine – Tyramine, is derived from the essential amino acid tyrosine, it has a role in increasing the secretion of the hormones, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) which have a stimulatory effect, so unlikely to induce sleepiness. Tyramine is found in foods/drinks such as aged-cheeses, smoked fish, cured meats, red wine and some beers. Avoid consuming food or drinks containing tyramine within 3 hours of your normal bedtime.
- Seek out some ‘Snooze’ Foods – Some foods are a source of certain hormones involved with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is a sleep hormone regulated by the light-dark cycle – as darkness falls melatonin levels increase preparing the body for sleep. Melatonin is derived from another sleep-related (and mood-enhancing) hormone called Serotonin, which in turn is made from the essential amino acid, Trytophan. Foods like cottage cheese, turkey, chicken, tuna, soy beans, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and bananas are good sources of tryptophan. Eating carbohydrates in combination with tryptophan-rich foods enhances its effect on serotonin levels.
- Reduce Stress levels – ‘A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow’ (Charlotte Bronte). Exercise is a great stress-buster which can really enhance your sleep pattern; aim to take your exercise at least 3-4 hours before your regular bedtime otherwise it can have the opposite effect of keeping you awake! If you find it difficult to unwind try some relaxation techniques, like progressive muscle relaxation, which focuses on relaxing and then tensing muscle groups one after another, moving from hands, arms, back and up to the head then back down the body to the feet.
- Establish a routine – Experts seem to agree that sticking to a specific bed time can help to establish a routine which signals to your body that it’s time to unwind and go to sleep. It can be useful to reduce artificial light stimulation from electronic devices, computers, television screens etc. Encourage your melatonin levels by keeping light levels low, unwinding by listening to music or reading a good book. Keep your bedroom temperature comfortable to enhance your sleep.
Sleep is relief for the body and mind from the daily grind, so make sure that your sleep is restorative and refreshing by following some of these tips and tricks. Wake up to a new day ready to Thrive!
Next time: Thrive tips and tricks on Eating a Rainbow. Keep up to date by regularly visiting the website or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.