As we move between seasons when the days get shorter and the night becomes longer, you may notice that less daylight hours can affect our sleeping patterns and have an influence on our sleep quality. Anything that upsets our 24-hour cycle, such as the clocks moving forwards or backwards, jet lag, shift work, or even just a very late night, can have a detrimental effect on our sleep patterns, leading to problems like insomnia.
There are things that you can do to help you attain a better quality of sleep and one of these is take into account what you are eating. Did you realise that there are sleep-inducing foods that can help us to fall and stay asleep? For example, if you are not consuming the vitamins and minerals needed for your hormonal system to function normally, your body may not create enough melatonin- the hormone that signals sleep.
Melatonin, only available on prescription, is a hormone that’s produced within the pineal gland of the brain, to help us maintain our circadian rhythms. When it goes dark, the gland releases melatonin, making us tired. As the sun rises, melatonin production stops, and we awake.
However, there are some foods that contain melatonin and research studies show that foods high in melatonin could significantly increase the melatonin concentration in blood and help to improve your sleep. Some of the most popular natural melatonin foods include: eggs, fish, nuts, cereals/grains, seeds, legumes and other plant foods.
If you have trouble relaxing, try valerian, a traditional herbal remedy which may help with temporary relief of sleep disturbances due to mild anxiety. The safe and naturally relaxing root is still used today by some people who struggle to ‘switch off’ at night. Try Valerian capsules from Holland & Barrett.
Magnesium is an essential mineral which has been shown to both help people fall asleep and stay asleep for longer. Make sure you get enough Magnesium by eating foods like tofu, spinach, almonds, avocados and dark chocolate to keep your levels up, or try taking a supplement such as Floradix Magnesium, a pleasant tasting magnesium liquid formula with herbal extracts & fruit juice concentrates available from Holland & Barrett.
If you are struggling to go to sleep, you should give caffeine a miss, but don’t worry, you can still enjoy a nice cuppa – just choose decaf or switch to herbal teas. Holland & Barrett have a selection of herbal teas that will help you to nod off easily. If you’re still struggling to get to sleep here are some simple techniques that could help you.
Firstly, get your bedroom ready for sleep by keeping clocks out of view and removing electronic devices from the room. Allow yourself to fully switch off and choose a blackout blind or curtains that can help darken your bedroom. Wearing an eye mask can also be helpful in blocking out artificial light. The temperature of your room can make a difference and by keeping to a temperature of around 16-18°C you’re reinforcing your body’s natural instinct to sleep. Some people find it useful to wear earplugs to block out noise. Others find playing gentle music or white noise helps them to drift into a more restful state of mind.
Secondly, get your body ready for sleep. As we’ve already mentioned, you should avoid drinking caffeine close to bedtime and try to reduce your consumption of (or cut out) stimulants such as alcoholic drinks. Leaving enough time for your stomach to digest food before you lie down for the night is a good tip, so move your dinner time to an earlier start and limit your calorie intake to earlier in the day so there’s more time to use any excess energy.
Take a warm bath or shower before bed. The dip in your body temperature post-bath can fool your body into thinking you have gone from daytime into night-time. Some say this can increase the urge to sleep. Finally, add some regular exercise into your routine. Exercise is great for relieving stress and anxiety, which can help with how to get to sleep fast. However, if you’re exercising in the lead up to bedtime, choose relaxing, low-impact exercises, such as yoga.
Lavender, one of the more popular essential oils, is most commonly used for relaxation and sleep. When used before bed, studies have shown that lavender oil can not only help you fall asleep but also improve the overall quality of rest. If you are searching for a perfect night time sleep, then look no further than the Dr Organic Lavender Pillow Spray from Holland & Barrett. A truly unique night-time spray helping to diminish sleepless nights while promoting deep sleep and tranquillity.
Researchers have found that low levels of vitamin D are linked with poor sleep quality. Vitamin D is important for serotonin production, and serotonin is important for many functions including our sleep-wake cycles. Our main source of vitamin D is sunlight, meaning when we don’t get sunlight we miss out. Research has shown that a lack of sunlight can increase feelings of depression and fatigue and increase carb cravings as serotonin levels are affected. Make sure you keep your vitamin D levels topped up with Holland & Barrett Vitamin D Supplements. Whether you prefer to take Vitamin D Tablets, Vitamin D Chewy Gummies, or use a Vitamin D Spray, there is something for everyone. Look out for Holland & Barrett Vitamin D3 25Ug Lemon and Lime Flavour Effervescent Tablets.
Sleep is so important for all of us, both mentally and physically, because this is when our bodies repair and recuperate, and getting a regular good night’s sleep is essential if we want to lead happy and healthy lives
Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking any medications or are under medical supervision, please consult a doctor or healthcare professional and always read the label before use.