National Sleep Day - I'm not sure the point of this national day as I'm sure it's not a call for 'spend the day in bed' and if it is then please enlighten me now so I can hit the pillow and enjoy the rest of the day. However, whatever the point of today I figured I'd share with you some key nutrition secrets when it comes to sleep because believe it or not what you eat and what you don't eat can significantly affect your zzzz. It's really important to be aware that this relationship is bi-directional meaning that the food you eat can impact the quality of your sleep and the quality and duration of you sleep can equally affect your food choices.
1. Magnesium. Once again this nutrient occurs in my top tips. Magnesium helps with nerve and muscle relaxation which can help you to feel more relaxed and contribute to increased sleep quality. Ensure you're magnesium replete by consuming foods rich in magnesium. Foods include: green leafy vegetables, almonds, beans, bananas and dark chocolate. Ideally also bathe in an Epsom salt bath twice a week where possible. You'll sleep so well after one of these!
2. Caffeine - For the most part (of course there are some exceptions) caffeine can stimulate the brain and inhibit sleep. Research has shown that even caffeine consumed up to 6 hours before bed can reduce sleep time by 1 hour. Caffeine consumed up to 3 hours before bed can disrupt stages one and two of the sleep cycle. It is important to note that these will affect everyone differently and the amount of caffeine consumed will change the disturbances on sleep.
3. Sugar - Consuming high sugar foods prior to sleeping can stimulate energy levels and consequently keep you awake at night. I recommend swapping your high sugar dessert for natural yoghurt and cinnamon to help stabilise those blood sugars throughout the night.
4.Alcohol - Many of us have already made the connection between a glass of wine or two with crashing out earlier than planned. However, whilst for some alcohol may stimulate sleep it majorly compromises on sleep quality and as a result you wake-up less rested than when you haven't indulged.
5. Meal Timing - Eating large heavy meals right before sleeping has been found to impair sleep quality and may even cause indigestion or an uncomfortable tummy in some individuals. It is recommended to consume a big meal at least 4 hours before hitting the pillow. Should you get home later opt for a lighter dinner. Omelettes, salads, soups (containing beans and lentils for protein) are all great lighter options.
And finally (because you know I can't resist an extra tip), I recommend having a sleep routine where possible. For example try and go to bed at the same time every night to allow your circadian rhythm to adapt and respond accordingly.