It’s reported that 50 per cent of us have problems sleeping. Our ‘racing minds’ due to worries about the day’s events plus physical factors, such as the need to get up and go to the toilet, all keep us awake at night. Other influences such as noise, our partner, light levels and room temperature are also on the list to keep us up counting sheep.
Sadly, poor sleep affects every aspect of our lives and it seems that women have a 10% lower average sleep score than men, yet energy, relationships and mood are the top three most affected areas for both men and women.
Getting the right amount of sleep is vital for our wellbeing. Restless sleep patterns, or not getting enough sleep, can eventually hinder our daily lives.
So how can you get your sleep back on track?
- If you can't sleep, get up and read for a while. Write down any worries and promise yourself you'll deal with them in the morning. When you feel sleepy, go back to bed and try again. If sleep does not come within 15 minutes, get up and repeat this process.
- Never go to sleep stressed or on bad terms. Try to avoid having difficult conversations with your partner just before bed and if things do get fraught, try first of all resolving the issue and then relaxing with a warm bath, quiet music and even light yoga.
- If you or your partner snore, avoid sleeping on your back as this makes snoring worse. If the issue becomes a real problem, go and see a doctor who should be able to prescribe something to help.
- If your partner is a night owl and you're an early bird or vice versa, try to stick to the same schedule and find the middle ground, so you don't disturb each other.
- Make sure you are sleeping in the right environment. Your bedroom should be a place of sanctuary.
- Make sure there’s no flashing charging toothbrushes, phones nearby.
- Block out all noise and any outside lights where possible.
- Keep the room at a regular temperature.
Change your diet
- Watch your caffeine intake, not just drinks, be mindful certain foods like chocolate contain caffeine.
- Don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid it actually interrupts your body into false sleep.
- Avoid any protein three hours before bed and increase your carbohydrate intake before bed. Carbs naturally act to shunt the tryptophan you took in earlier in the day to the right place in your brain responsible for turning it into natural melatonin.
- Regular exercise during the day is important but avoid vigorous exercise in the evening which will have an alerting effect.
Natural products to help aid sleep worth trying are:
Dick Middleton, pharmacist and Chair of the British Herbal Medicine Association (www.bhma.info) says: “The herb Passion Flower has been used traditionally for many years to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. It is particularly helpful as a calming herb and is often used, either on its own or in combination with other herbs such as Valerian, to help relieve stress induced insomnia. More information about herbs for minor health conditions can be found on the BHMA website.”
Valerian is recognised as a mild sedative that calms the nervous system, lowers levels of anxiety and promotes relaxation and sleep. Canadian scientists studied nearly 200 patients and found that including a valerian-hops supplement in a diet could help people who suffer from mild insomnia.
Zenbev Natural Drink Formula is an organic sleep aid made from pumpkin seeds. The organic pumpkin seeds are cold pressed to remove the oil and blended in a powder formulation that promotes sleep naturally. Zenbev is clinically proven to promote a natural and healthy sleep. It can be taken during the day or at bedtime to provide a powerful source of tryptophan, which by day is metabolised into the ‘feel good’ hormone serotonin which regulates mood, and by night into the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin which is essential for sound sleep. Available in two flavours, mix lemon into a mug of hot water or herbal tea, or enjoy the chocolate flavour in a mug of hot milk.
Healthspan Night –Time 5-HTP (00mg of natural 5-HTP and 187mg of Magnesium) provides building blocks for making melatonin, your natural sleep hormone. Depression, or symptoms of this condition, could impact on a good night’s sleep, but restoring the body’s levels of serotonin, also known as the happy hormone, may help. 5-HTP which is an amino acid which helps the body produce serotonin, thus contributing to feelings of well-being and happiness. Some of the body’s supply of serotonin also converts into melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone. In order to get a good sleep, we need a good balance of serotonin and melatonin in our system as they help with feelings of well-being.
As well as it’s role to support the immune system Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition recommends making sure we have good levels of magnesium in our diet which can be found in leafy green vegetables plus wheat bran and eating almonds. Magnesium helps calm nerves and relaxes muscles, which could aid a good night’s sleep. Many people are deficient in this mineral so taking it as a supplement could help replenish the body’s supply.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone which is released in cycles throughout the day. Found in cherries, bananas and grapes, it keeps us alert during the day and at rest during the night – in effect, it regulates our normal sleep/wake cycle. However, many people don’t have high enough levels of melatonin at night, so taking it in supplement form could help us get to sleep. Studies have also shown melatonin deficiency may play an important role in the high frequency of insomnia among elderly people.
Making sure you have a well-balanced diet, eating breakfast, getting enough protein and not too much alcohol or caffeine are all key to a good nights sleep.
To learn more about how you can improve your sleep pattern and bedtime routine you can download this PDF called ‘One Week To Better Sleep’ written by Dr Craig Hudson a practising psychiatrist and founder of Zenbev®. Fill in the diary and practice the tips based on Dr Hudson’s BED checklist which is broken down into three parts: Behaviour-Environment- Diet.Last modified: June 10, 2021