Not something we give much thought to, if we’re sleeping well.
If we’re not? Lack of sleep can become an obsession. Thinking about how tired we are and how tough it is to get to sleep can become a stress in itself.
What causes sleep problems?
It’s a long list, but includes medications, emotional stress, blood sugar dysregulation, electromagnetic disturbance (think Wifi signals, your phone under the pillow…) too much caffeine, not eating enough healthy protein and fat…
Want to do something about it? Read on…
The most important thing to remember about sleep is that how we feel, think, eat and behave all day has an impact on how we sleep. We can’t separate one from the other and there are a number of things we can do earlier in the day to radically improve our chances of a good night’s sleep.
Eat well early in the day, reducing portion sizes as they day progresses.
I almost always advise eating every 3 or 4 hours, particularly to support healthy balanced blood sugar levels and reproductive hormones. This way of eating keeps stress hormones low too and supports a calm nervous system, which helps us sleep.
When you eat, do a mental check – Where is my protein? Where is my fat?
Every single meal or snack should include good quality protein and fat. These include nuts & seeds, eggs, meat, fish, coconut oil, butter, cheese and beans. All of these foods will slow down the release of sugar (from carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice) into the blood, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. They also help us to feel fuller for longer, reducing the desire for unhealthy sugary foods and a caffeine fix that is sure to mess with our sleep. Finally, they contain essential nutrients that support the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin that help us feel happy and calm.
Cut down your caffeine intake.
You already know this. It’s a no-brainer. It’s not always easy though! Try replacing black tea or coffee with herbal teas – check out this week’s “Wednesday Wisdom” for some of my favourite herbal teas. Find an alternative that gives you the same comfort that caffeinated drinks give you. If you’re hooked on energy drinks, begin to reduce them and try sparkling water with slices of lemon and orange. I have a serious love of lattes. They are my big weakness. I had to examine why I was drinking them and the answer was surprising. I loved the creaminess. I found it comforting and luxurious. That was the insight I needed to find a replacement. I have recently been making myself a chai version, without black tea and a seriously rich hot chocolate, made with pure cacao, lucuma, cinnamon, coconut oil and turmeric. It is so comforting and filling, I really don’t need a coffee later in the day. Cacao does contain caffeine and other stimulants, but having a small amount and really savouring it is much safer and healthier than surviving on cups of coffee. Try it, let me know how you get on!
Prioritise healthy digestion and elimination.
What does your bowel have to do with how you sleep? Well, everything! Think about it. Your body does a lot of eating, digesting and absorbing throughout the day. While you sleep it is busily processing the waste and eliminating whatever isn’t needed. If your digestion is suffering, your sleep will too. Eating slowly, enjoying your food and including herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, nettle, fennel and senna can gently help to support healthy elimination. Some herbs are not recommended during fertility treatment or in early pregnancy, so if you’re at that stage, stick to chamomile, ginger, peppermint and nettle. Eating sufficient fibre also helps, so be sure to include seeds like chia or linseed in your diet (soaked overnight they can be added to smoothies or oatmeal) for a very happy gut.
Repeat after me – Oatmeal is a superfood.
This might be news to you, but oats are amazing. They’re inexpensive (yay!) are high in fibre that is well tolerated by most people, are very soothing for the nervous system (so perfect for anxiety) and contain beta glucan which helps to support healthy cholesterol levels. Oats also provide a source of minerals that not only help to relax the body physically but have antioxidant properties too! I suggest soaking them overnight in filtered water, with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. They’re much easier to digest this way and your body has a much better chance of accessing those nutrients.
I want to hear from you!
Firstly: Share below what your biggest sleep struggle is.
Secondly: Have you been surprised by something new in this blog? I’d love to hear about it…
Third: Everyone suffers from sleep depravation at some point, so be a good friend and share this article with your community on social media by clicking the buttons below