Scientists from Oxford university claim we are getting between 1-2 hours less sleep per night now than we did 60 years ago! Current statistics show that 51% of adults worldwide don't get enough sleep. Not good reading considering the vital role sleep plays in keeping us physically and emotionally strong. Sleep deprivation has also been associated with rising levels of obesity, respiratory issues, skin issues, diabetes risk and weakened immune system.
Prioritise your Sleep
Ideally adults should be aiming for 7 -8 hours of quality of sleep a night. If you are one of the many struggling to achieve this, then you may find some of these tips below helpful.
· Leave a minimum of 2 hours from eating dinner to going to bed.
· Try to spend some time outside in the early morning light as this will help support your circadian rhythm.
· Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
· If you drink coffee, make sure this is before midday as it can take up to 8 hours to metabolise coffee.
· Avoid bright artificial light from TVs, computer screen and mobile phones as these send signals to the brain that it is morning and time to wake up
· Try a milky or oat drink before bed or herbal hot drink such as valerian, chamomile, or passionflower. I like the Pukka night time herbal tea which includes a blend of different herbs to help induce sleep.
· Keep your bedroom cool, ideally between 16-18 degrees Celsius
Did you know that the type of food you eat can also affect the quality and quantity of sleep too!
· Avoid processed foods and those high in sugar as these will cause a spike in your blood sugar which will then be followed by crash severe enough to wake you up from your deepest slumber!
· Insomnia has been linked to nutritional deficiencies in vitamins B6 and Zinc. B6 rich foods include dairy foods, eggs, salmon, poultry, tofu, oats, bananas, and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, green peas and spinach. Zinc rich foods include red meat, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds.
· Make sure you include foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid helps to induce sleep as it is a precursor to the sleep inducing chemicals serotonin and melatonin in the brain. Tryptophan is present in small amounts in most protein foods and in higher amounts in milk, oats, bananas, poultry, eggs and nuts especially cashews, pistachios and almonds.
So hopefully with the right nutrients and environment you should be able to make some improvements. If you are still struggling, you may find it helpful to have a consultation with a nutritional therapist or herbalist who will be able to offer further support.