Sleep deprivation is very common and has a significant impact on our quality of life, as well as our mental and physical health. Good sleep relies on good habits in order to retrain our brains, and in particular our circadian rhythm, our natural 24 hour cycle governed by light and dark.
Supplements and Habits
There are a number of supplements and dietary changes which can help to improve the duration and quality of sleep. Lifestyle and habit changes are essential to support better sleep quality and sleep duration.
Sour Cherries: Sour cherries are rich in nutrients like potassium, iron and magnesium. Sour cherry juice contains melatonin, a hormone that helps to induce sleep, it is also comprised of anthocyanins and procyanidins - chemicals with anti-inflammatory properties that can support sleep. Drinking sour cherry juice daily or incorporating frozen cherries in a smoothie before bed can aid sleep.
Oats: Oats contain tryptophan, an amino acid that the brain converts into serotonin, which relaxes the body before falling asleep. Our brains need tryptophan to make serotonin, so it is important to get enough of it for good sleep. Complex carbohydrates such as oats help the brain to convert tryptophan to serotonin. A small bowl of porridge sweetened with sour cherry juice before bed will help you get a good night’s sleep.
Supplements: There is a wide range of supplements that are beneficial for sleep, such as: vitamin B12, vitamin D, magnesium and 5-HTP. Further information on your personal recommended supplements can be found on your nutrient handouts.
Dark: It is essential to reduce light in your bedroom as much as possible so that your body’s natural circadian rhythm knows when it is time to sleep. Exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, even dim light can interfere with your circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. In particular, blue light from electronic gadgets suppresses melatonin twice as long as other light, wearing blue light blocking glasses can help.
Avoid energy drinks, and reduce or stop caffeine intake, don’t have any caffeine after noon. Caffeine interferes with the circadian melatonin rhythms and can take as long as 6-8 hours to leave the system. A cup of coffee consumed within 6 hours of bedtime will interfere with sleep quality and reduce sleep by over an hour.
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