When it comes to getting a decent night’s sleep, there are some obvious rules to follow. Not using phones or computers right before bedtime, sticking to a regular bedtime routine and having relaxation rituals to wind down before bed are all good ideas.
It is well-known that poor sleep can have a dramatic effect on our health, but what’s less well-known is that a deficiency in magnesium can be one of the main factors affecting the quality of sleep we can achieve.
The body needs magnesium to maintain a state of complete rest and low levels can lead to restless muscles that can keep you awake at night. Magnesium also ensures the GABA receptors in our brain and nervous system are working efficiently. GABA receptors help the brain switch off in the preparation for sleep.
The foods we eat have a big impact on sleep quality, for those that struggle to get eight hours, Nutritionist Kim Pearson suggests trying to make these dietary changes…
Cut the caffeine.
We all love a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, but your caffeine habit could be keeping you up at night. Gradually reduce your caffeine intake throughout the day and have your last cup of tea or coffee (or other caffeinated drink) no later than lunchtime.
Tea before bed.
Since you’ve cut out your afternoon cuppa, replace it with a nice soothing cup of chamomile tea. It contains apigenin, which is an antioxidant that has been linked with promoting sleepiness. In studies, participants fell asleep faster and experienced improved sleep quality.
Magnesium is a natural relaxant as it has been linked to lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It is also a smooth muscle relaxant; so make sure your diet includes foods that are rich in the nutrient. Spinach, kale, avocados, chickpeas, salmon and figs are all great options.
However, even with the best intentions, it can be tricky to absorb enough magnesium from our diet alone, so it’s worth considering a supplement which bypasses the digestive system. I recommend trying BetterYou’s Magnesium Sleep Lotion which is clinically proven to provide a better night’s sleep – and it’s super simple to use at bedtime!
The sleep aid, which was clinically tested on 78-healthy people who identified as ‘struggling to sleep’ by the NHS Sleep Self-Assessment Questionnaire, demonstrated improvements in sleep for 92 per cent of people, particularly those that had trouble staying asleep.
Eat your evening meal earlier.
If you’re eating too late in the day you may struggle to get off to sleep, so try to time your evening meal at least three hours before bedtime.
This meal should be free from starchy carbs like pasta, rice and bread, which can cause a peak in sugar levels and then reactive hypoglycaemia, or a ‘sugar crash’. The resultant release of stress hormones can wake you in the night, so instead, opt for a meal that isn’t too big eaten nice and early.
For that evening meal opt for foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is needed to produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Nuts such as almonds, seeds, or lean meat such as chicken and turkey are all good sources of this. Supplementing tryptophan in the form of 5HTP can also help to boost your levels of this sleep-supporting amino acid.
Say no to sugar.
It may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many people opt for a sugary drink with dinner or have a sugary treat like a chocolate biscuit right before bedtime.
Keep your daily sugar intake to a minimum and ensure that it is coming from natural sources such as fruit rather than refined sugars, fizzy drinks and sweets. Swap your pudding after your evening meal for a digestive-aiding peppermint tea for a better night’s sleep.
Other ways to help you sleep
Aside from changing your dietary habits, you can also add some specialist sleep boosting products. Click here to read our guide on products which should help you to get a perfect sleep.