In this final part of Sonia Strong’s Sleep Hygiene feature she looks at a variety of further ways we can bring the health delivering properties of quality sleep.
is fantastic mineral to add to your daily supplements. It is one of the seven essential macro minerals we need each day. It plays an important role in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body including metabolism of food and synthesis of fatty acids. Magnesium deficiency is linked to poor sleep patterns
, insulin resistance coronary heart disease and osteoporosis.
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I have recommended Magnesium supplements to most of my close friends and family and they have all reported great results such as finding it easier to fall asleep, having more energy the following day and improved concentration. I also take two Magnesium tablets each night with B6, which is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from Holland and Barratt or Amazon.
has dramatically helped me at night massaging a small amount into my shoulders, I have also found it helps with joint and muscle pain. Magnesium flakes are great to put into a warm bath especially with a few drops of lavender oil or lavender bath salts.
There is great product called ‘Sleep Aid’ that is inexpensive and can be bought in high street stores. It is a herbal sleep alternative that contains a mix of natural ingredients like Valerian, Hops, & passion flower. Take two about an hour before bed has helped me greatly and gives me peace of mind that it doesn’t contact any harsh pharmaceutical drugs that can make you feel heavy headed the next day.
sleep drops are also a great remedy; I would suggest only take Dormeasan or Sleep aid tablets as they both contact Valerian. I wouldn’t recommend putting the drops in water as it has quite a bitter taste; I put my drops into a small glass of orange juice.
A warm bath an hour before bed can significantly help you unwind and relaxes your muscles in proportion for sleep. Even better if you can turn the lights off in your bathroom and use a candle (remembering to be safe and blow it out once you have finished!) The dim lighting will help prepare your retinas for bedtime.
Try to keep your bedroom to nice temperature, not too warm that you become agitated but cool enough that you aren’t disturbed from a chill. I often sleep with my window slightly open, I find the fresh air and slight breeze helps me relax and aids with sinus issues.
Hormones & chemicals in our brain
Serotonin is a hormone produced in the gut and the brain, which monitors and controls mood and sleep patterns. I found an amazing supplement called 5HTP. It is a natural organic substance that transforms neurotransmitters into serotonin in the brain. I recommend taking this during the day after food. 5HTP is also a recommended remedy for conditions such as severe headaches, depression & it decreases hunger cravings
so perfect for anyone wanting to lose a few extra pounds.
So there are many benefits in taking 5HTP, the main one for me is, by stimulating my natural serotonin levels I feel more alert in the day and able to switch off more easily at night.
Food & Diet
A mug of warm milk is an old fashioned remedy but has most often helped me switch off. I’m sure in the past it was recommended to put a splash of brandy or whisky in your milk but I wouldn’t recommend that!
Dairy products are rich in the amino acid Tryptophan that helps in the production of the sleep inducing brain chemicals
, serotonin and melatonin. In the winter I sleep with an electric blanket on my bed which helps me to fall asleep.
Herbal teas such as camomile
have a lovely sedative effect. Foods such as yogurt, oats, bananas, poultry, eggs, tuna and peanuts all contain good amounts of Tryptophan.
Avoid foods such as pork, cheese, chocolate, aubergines, tomatoes and potatoes as they all contain an amino acid rich in Tyramine which the body converts to noradrenaline – a brain stimulant. Nicotine is also a stimulant so if you are a smoker try to have your last smoke at least an hour before bed (better still – don’t smoke!
Try to avoid eating too close to bedtime
. If your body is still trying to digest food it isn’t allowing it time to fully relax, plus if you eat too close to sleeping, a hormone called Leptin doesn’t kick in as efficiently which controls our metabolic rate, which in turn can lead to weight gain and a slower metabolism.
Avoid bright artificial light and blue light at night, it can send a signal to the brain that it is time to concentrate and perform tasks. Softer colours like pinks/purples are good. I have mood ball that I picked up from B&Q, it can be set to whichever colours you like. I have noticed it does put me in a happier mood and helps me feel relaxed before sleep.
Try to adapt a bedtime routine which includes going to sleep and waking up around similar times, this will get your body clock used to when its time to switch off and be alert. For at least 5 out of 7 days so you can see a pattern emerge of when you struggle to sleep and when you sleep soundly. I quite often keep a sleep journal if I am not sleeping well to attempt to identify what I can eliminate to aid a healthy sleep.
Music and noise
Studies have shown that music at different frequencies can help with healing
, it’s all to do with the beta and theta waves in the brain. Sound at a calm relaxing level can inform the brain it is time to drift off. I find Meditation music on YouTube is great, especially the ones that last approximately an hour.
If you are disturbed during the night or before you are due to wake up by someone else’s alarm or external noise, then I suggest earplugs or at least one if you don’t like the idea of not being able to hear. If you wake up to an alarm, choose a sound that gradually wakes you up gently, nothing like a siren or abrupt noise! This can drastically affect the type of mood you start your day in.
Things to avoid before sleep
Tea and coffee that contain caffeine
, energy drinks especially those that contain caffeine and taurine, sweets/candy, alcohol and food rich in carbohydrates (make your last drink before bed a glass of water or milk)
Try to switch off all electrical devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
This gives the brain time to unwind. I have to admit I do like to watch a little bit of TV in bed before I sleep to switch off but I ensure its easy viewing and not too loud.
Last but not least…
a bit of an obvious suggestion but don’t forget to try to fully empty your bladder
before you get into bed. Nothing worse than getting comfortable and then having to get up to go pee!
If your sleep is severely disturbed and you are finding it hard to fall asleep or stay in a deep sleep then see your GP if the above remedies don’t seem to be working. You may need a gently sedative on a temporary basis to help you get back into a healthy sleep routine.
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