Sleep is a vital component to how we feel physically and mentally. It is such an important topic that plays a significant role in our energy, wellness and beauty. I know for me, when I do not sleep well, the next day I can feel groggy, demotivated, low and moody (not great!).
Having a disrupted or lack of sleep can play havoc with our bodies and in particular our minds. Often when I see people that are feeling depressed or low, the first question I ask them is what is your sleeping pattern like?
As our bodily constitutions are all different, some may find they need less sleep than others and some may find they need more, however, the importance should be centered around the quality of sleep rather than the quantity.
Below are my top tips on how to optimise the quality of your sleep every day so you feel your best and wake up each day feeling refreshed!
Magnesium + B6
As I mentioned previously, one of the supplements I would recommend taking is magnesium + B6 which works wonders for when your sleep is disrupted. Magnesium + B6 are essential compounds needed for proper functioning of the human body. They work together in conjunction helping with cell function and metabolism. Taking 1-2x (depending on the condition of your sleep) before you go to bed will help to ensure a quality sleep and reduce any stress or anxiety.
Essential oils have been around for centuries and are utilised in various different cultures. They are natural, extracted from plants, flowers, roots or barks and are often used as a natural remedy to stress.
The top four essential oils for stress are:
Pop a few drops of essential oils onto a cotton pad and inhale before bed or add several drops into a bath. Baldwins.co.uk are a brilliant stockist for quality essential oils.
We often associate chamomile tea with sleep and whilst it is great for helping you relax and get into sleep mode, lavender tea is another great option that is often not payed as much attention to. There are more than 45 different types of lavender that have been used for centuries due to its three main benefits:
- Relaxes the body
- Reduces muscle spasms
- Balances mood
Remember to always opt for an organic and un-bleached tea bag brand when choosing your teas!
Skip caffeine after 4pm
Although there have been found to be health benefits to drinking coffee, caffeine is a stimulant and can lower the quality of your sleep. One study found that when caffeine was consumed 0-3hrs before bed, the participants had a disrupted sleep. Those that consumed caffeine 6hrs before bed, did not report any effect on their sleep.
Even though coffee can affect your sleep, this does not mean you need to cut it out entirely. I advise avoiding coffee after 4pm as it does take time to wear off!
Eat a quality source of protein for dinner
Whilst sleeping, our bodies are essentially getting closer to a catabolic state. This involves our bodies using the amino acids from the protein we eat as energy. By having a good source of protein for dinner ensures that our bodies are properly fed throughout the seven+ hours of sleep.
Before I studied nutrition, my sleep was all over the place. I would always be eating carbohydrate rich meals for dinner and I would wake up in the middle of the night. Once I realised how our body digests each macronutrient, I found that by ensuring I was eating enough protein each day, but particularly for my dinner, my sleep drastically improved.
By protein, I do not necessarily mean just animal produce. You can also get a good source of protein from nuts, seeds and legumes.
Meditation Before Bed
Meditation is a great way to soothe your mind and relax your thoughts. It does take time and practice and can be difficult to switch off, but my best advice is to keep going and keep practicing.
If you do find meditation difficult then there are great apps such as HeadSpace or Calm that help you to relax your mind. A great piece of advice that I was told by a top Meditation Teacher is to spend 5 minutes a day before bed practicing and eventually switching off your thoughts will become easier and easier.