As we age, sleep quality and quantity is just as important as when we were younger. It helps improve concentration and memory function, repairs any cell damage from the day’s activities and refreshes the immune system, which in turn helps to prevent disease.
A good nights sleep should be the norm - not a luxury. So if you struggle to fall asleep, or wake in the night often, try some of our tips below to see if they help. If you continue to struggle, book a chat with our Health Coach for some bespoke advice and a 3 month action plan!
Nutrition interventions for good sleep
- Make sure you are getting at least 2 servings a day of magnesium rich foods: green veg, avocados, nuts, seeds, beans and dark chocolate (over 70%). Magnesium calms your nervous system, facilitating restful sleep.
- Avoid caffeine after 2pm; opt for de-caf or herbal teas e.g. peppermint or rooibos, which is naturally caffeine free. Research shows that caffeine interferes with circadian melatonin rhythms, delaying the onset of sleep if consumed close to bedtime.
- Balance blood sugar levels by eating complex carbs over simple sugars, and add protein to all meals. Imbalanced blood sugars can waken someone in a deep sleep, due to the drop in blood sugar, which is stressful for the body.
- Try my bedtime smoothie 2 hours before bed: 1 cup of cow or vegan milk, 1 serving (30ml) of Cherry Active Juice, 1 tbsps tahini and 1 small banana. Blend! Cherry juice can help aid restyle sleep. Bananas aid in the production of serotonin and melatonin, two hormones that regulate mood and sleeping patterns, and promote muscle relaxation and stress relief. Tahini is rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which supports the production of melatonin, which supports sleep.
Movement interventions for good sleep
We have a carefully balanced ‘sleep - wake’ cycle called our ‘Circadian Rhythm’. This cycle releases certain levels of hormones throughout the day which help us feel awake or sleepy. The main ones being melatonin at night and cortisol in the day. Supporting our natural rhythm of hormones can promote good sleep. See below some actions to help.
- Your body’s circadian clock responds to light, as a signal to be awake, and dark, as a signal to fall asleep. So the more natural light we can get in a day, the stronger our ‘sleep-wake’ cycle will be - so get outside. Have meals outside, choose to exercise outdoors rather than in a gym if possible, get gardening etc!
- Studies show regular aerobic exercise help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality (moderate exercise increases the amount of deep sleep we get). So get moving and increase that heart rate!
- Relaxing our nervous system by doing some slow stretches or yoga can help us prepare for a good sleep. Try this video for a lovely ‘wind down’ set of stretches.
Lifestyle interventions for good sleep
- If your mind is racing at night, then it may be hard for your body to fall asleep. Have a notepad and pen next to your bed to write down and ‘park’ any actions or thoughts that come to mind.
- Have a set bedtime and wake time! Our bodies love routine, and this can strengthen our circadian rhythm. Set reminders on your phone if it helps you stick to timings.
- Reduce your stress levels. We want to lower cortisol towards bedtime, so if we are stressed this will continue to produce this hormone, impairing sleep. Try some meditation, we like the Honest Guys own YouTube: here is a relaxing meditation.