Anyone who’s ever missed a night’s sleep or had small children and experienced broken sleep for months (or years!) on end will know how lack of sleep can make you feel pretty terrible. It’s hard to concentrate, make decisions and cope with small setbacks that would otherwise be manageable.
It’s estimated more of us get insomnia as we get older, and it’s normally worse during times of stress. For some people trouble sleeping manifests as difficulty falling asleep, for others it’s frequent or early waking.
If you wake up during the night or very early it could be related to a drop in your blood sugars in the night (hypoglycaemia), or other problems like sleep apnea, or any medication you’re taking.
Eat to improve your sleep
- Balance blood sugars – If you wake up due to blood sugar falling, often after drinking alcohol, it might help to follow a low GL diet. This means complex carbohydrates, more protein, and concentrating on some protein before bed to maintain a consistent blood glucose and stop an interruption that might wake you up.
- Build up your hormones – Serotonin helps to us to get to sleep by producing melatonin, our sleep hormone. To make enough serotonin we need tryptophan rich foods such as turkey, eggs, pulses or bananas. Also get some daylight during the day with a walk outside if you can, to help reset your circadian rhythm.
- Take magnesium – Some studies have shown supplementation with magnesium helped reduced nighttime waking, early morning waking and improved how refreshed people felt in the morning. Include magnesium rich foods in your day like leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard, coriander; seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, quinoa, cashew nuts, and black beans.
Tips For Better Sleep
Darken your room to ensure proper melatonin production. Close any gaps in the curtains, try blackout blinds or use an eye mask. This is because light supresses melatonin production, and if our circadian rhythms are knocked out it can affect sleep times and quality.
- Avoid any stimulants such as caffeine from at least 6 hours before going to bed
- Limit refined sugars etc. Also avoid heavy meals late at night as you’ll be digesting as you sleep.
- Try different relaxation techniques to find something that suits you – either deep breathing exercises, relaxation apps like Headspace, reading a book, or journal writing.
- Avoid blue screens, including smart phones, for 2 hours before bed to help stop the light disrupting your melatonin production.