Sleep cannot be under estimated. The average person spends 26 years sleeping and we also spend an alarming 7 years trying to get to sleep. In modern busy times sleep has become a luxury, rather than a necessity. Lack of sleep is detrimental to our overall mood, energy and healing. We should be aiming for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.

We need to practice good sleep hygiene. This includes things such as, no screen time an hour before bed, no caffeinated drinks, stimulating movies, and relax and have a bath or read.  More than three caffeinated drinks a day can affect sleep, everybody processes caffeine differently but it takes about 6 hours to metabolise one cup of coffee. I would suggest reducing coffee after 6pm. Our bodies are detoxing and replenishing between 11-2am so we really need to be asleep before then. Going to bed at similar times each night is also best practice.

Half body lady with a fruit bowl

There are lots of foods which can help aid good quality sleep. Nuts especially almonds and walnuts contain melatonin, a hormone which helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle. A handful of almonds or walnuts is an excellent snack. Foods high in amino acid tryptophan work well, they increase serotonin levels. They’re found in foods such as turkey, lettuce, bananas, pineapple, cottage cheese, and raspberries. They can help to increase the REM cycle and limit the number of times you wake. A cup of a nice bedtime tea like chamomile, ginger or peppermint are excellent choices at bedtime. Chamomile helps reduce anxiety and contains apigenin which is an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in the brain, it’s said it may promote sleepiness.

Protein is also another factor to consider- the ideal snack would have complex carbohydrates and some protein. An example of a night time snack would be almond or other nut butters on oat/rice cakes or wholemeal bread with a small amount of turkey.

There are 4 stages of sleep that follow each other in a cyclical fashion: Non-REM (NREM) sleep which is called stages 1, 2 and 3 and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. All stages are very important. Stage 1 is the easiest disrupted and once we get to deep sleep at Stage 3, this is the restorative phase where the immune system is restored, muscle and bones are repaired.

Lady meditating

Stress affects the quality of sleep. When you don’t sleep well, your body keeps pumping out those hormones and you feel stressed and as a result do not sleep well and the cycle continues. Consider meditation, yoga and an exercise that suits your lifestyle. Exercise and activity are also imperative in maintaining a good sleep cycle by increasing time spent in deep sleep which is the restorative phase

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