We all go through phases in our life that we suddenly don’t sleep well anymore: either it takes us a long time to fall asleep, or we wake up in the middle of the night and it takes 3 hours to get back to sleep or er just wake up early in the morning. Most of us have been there?
Most of the time, the change in our sleep pattern happens because we have gone through a trauma in life (a sudden loss in the family, divorce, being made redundant, worrying about a child, menopause etc). Whatever keeps us awake, it is not good for body and mind to have disruptive or lack of sleep so we need to break that bad habit.
5 tips to improve sleep:
- Outdoors exercise
- Herbal and Mineral support
We all know that alcohol wakes us up in the middle of the night. So we better avoid this to get back into a good sleeping habit. Other drinks we should avoid are coffee (after midday) and fizzy drinks. Coffee contains caffeine and increases our cortisol levels. This hormone is responsible for keeping us awake.
Fizzy drinks are full of sugar and will imbalance our blood sugar and insulin levels which also has a negative effect on our sleep.
Herbal teas, on the other hand, have a calming effect and some of them like chamomile, lavender and passionflower tea will help us fall asleep and make us sleep longer.
High fat foods with high sugar content will keep us awake at night.
The foods that have the most postitive effect on our sleep are wholesome carbs combined with a good protein source like turkey, chicken, fatty fish and legumes. These protein sources contain an amino acid called Tryptophan.
Tryptophan is needed to make serotonin (happy hormone) which turns into melatonin. Melatonin is our sleeping hormone.
The two most important reasons that we need to go outdoors and do some exercise is because:
- Exercise will make us more tired which will make us sleep better
- Going outdoors means we will make more serotonin. We need serotonin to make our sleeping hormone Melatonin.
If you can’t fall asleep straight away, try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise which will have a positive impact on your sleep. It works on the fight or flight response.
It focuses the mind on regulating the breath. It has been described as the ‘natural tranquiliser for the nervous system’.
How do you do this breathing exercise? Breath in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, breath out through your mouth for 8 seconds.
Herbal and Mineral Support
Many herbs have a calming and sedative effect on our system. The most well-recognised ones are Valerian and Passionflower. You can take them as a tea, a tincture or a capsule.
Chamomile and lavender tea will also have a very calming effect on the body. Have a calming tea before bedtime.