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  • Samantha Varriale

Top Tips for Improving Your Sleep

It's not news that both quality and quantity of sleep are vital for health and how to improve it is something I talk about a lot with my client

Read on for an easy-to-read summary of why sleep is so important, top tips for improving your sleep and my favourite sleep supplements.

The Importance of Sleep

Benefits of a good night’s sleep(1):

  • Increased energy

  • Improved concentration and memory

  • Reduced risk of:

  • Being overweight

  • Developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s

  • Improved immune function

  • Reduced stress levels

  • Improved mental health

  • Increased life expectancy

Consequences of poor sleep:

  1. Eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates lead to blood sugar dips which causes adrenaline and cortisol to be released which can contribute to sleepless nights(2)

  2. Impaired metabolism(3)

  3. Increases our hunger hormone ghrelin

  4. Increases appetite for high carbohydrate foods

  5. Decreases our satiety (feeling full) hormone leptin

  6. Long-term broken sleep contributes to increased:(4)

  7. intestinal permeability (a factor in autoimmune disease)

  8. inflammation

  9. fat mass

  10. Insulin resistance

  11. Impaired brain function - moderate sleep deprivation results in impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to alcohol intoxication(5)

  12. Poor immune function - reduced immune response resulting in increased susceptibility to infections(6)

  13. Poor mental health - sleep problems can be a cause and a symptom of poor mental health including anxiety and depression(7)


Top Tips for Better Sleep

Routine

Stick to a schedule:

  • go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to regulate your body clock which is important for quality sleep

  • bring sleep time forward by 15 minutes every few days if you need to reset bedtime

Get the right sun – at least 20 mins of natural sunlight outside, ideally in the morning, to help regulate your body clock.

Exercise earlier in the day – no later than 2-3 hours before your bedtime.

Don’t nap after 3pm (avoid if possible) – afternoon naps make it harder to sleep at night

Food & Drink

Avoid caffeine:

  • Caffeine can stay in your system for 5-7 hours, so ideally avoid after 3pm

  • Decaf is not necessarily no-caff and may still contain some caffeine

  • There's also caffeine in tea, colas, "energy" drinks and chocolate

  • Some people might be more sensitive to caffeine due to their genes

Avoid alcohol before bed or altogether if you are particularly sensitive to it:

  • Makes sleep lighter, although it might be heavy at the beginning of the night

  • You wake up when the effects of alcohol wear off

Avoid large meals and drinks late at night:

  • Large meals may cause indigestion

  • Too much liquid = more trips to the bathroom

Lifestyle:

Minimise devices:

  • Avoid tv, computer, mobiles and tablet 1 hour before bed - studies show that the blue light they emit may suppress melatonin the sleep hormone

  • “Unplug” from social media which has also been found to disturb sleep

  • Avoid wearing a FitBit or similar to bed and unplug the wifi router - studies show that electromagnetic fields from these devices may disrupt sleep

Create the right environment:

  • Relax before bed - read or listen to music, minimise screens (especially those with blue light like mobile phones) and perhaps the news or horror movies before bed!

  • Sleep-proof your environment – dark, cool, gadget-free bedroom

  • Don’t lie in bed awake – after 20 minutes of being awake, get up and do something relaxing until you fall asleep

My top 3 supplements for sleep:

  • Magnesium - the master relaxer for body and brain, needed for 100s of bodily processes and difficult to get from diet alone as the soil is depleted. My favourites are

  • Magnesium citrate - ideal if you suffer from constipation

  • Magnesium malate - can be beneficial for pain

  • Magnesium taurate - super calming, great for anxiety

  • Ashwaghanda - studies show it improves sleep as well as alertness upon rising and anxiety levels (please seek professional advice before taking this product if you are taking prescription medication)

  • Tart Cherry Juice - a natural source of melatonin

3 great books about sleep

  • ‘The 4 Pillar Plan’(it’s one of the pillars) by Dr Rangan Chatterjee

  • ‘The Circadian Code” by Dr Satchin Panda

  • ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology and Director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, University of California

Need help unravelling the causes of your fatigue? Book a FREE discovery call to find out how nutritional therapy can help.


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The content on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


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