Nutrition, Hydration, Exercise and Sleep
Your brain produces a delicate balance of hormones which influence your sleep. However insomnia is not caused by what you do at night, but rather your habits and what you create during the day! Read more about this in Nerena Ramlakan’s book ‘Tired but Wired’.
To create the right internal environment for sleep examine your nutrition, hydration and exercise routines – here are some factors to consider:
- Moderate nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and chocolate intake! They are stimulants and disrupt the internal chemistry essential for good sleep
- Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking. When we are well fed and satisfied, our metabolism is faster. This uses up our energy stores and keeps blood sugar levels more stable. As a result, we have the resources to make happy hormone serotonin (so we feel better) and to make melatonin (at end of the day so we sleep better). If your body is in famine state, adrenaline will be produced and we are more prone to ingest refined sugars and caffeine to keep us going.
- Snack healthily between meals, and avoid heavy meals in the evening, they are disruptive to sleep but also bad for our health
- Have a herbal tea and a light snack before bed – slice of toast with honey, small bowl of cereal, yoghurt with Tart Cherry Juice dribbled over it
- Eat Tryptophan rich foods – this is the amino acid that helps to make serotonin and melatonin – eg. bananas, lettuce, poultry, tuna, milk, yogurt and eggs
- Take herbal supplements to improve the natural balance of hormones which support sleep
- Drink between 1 and 3 litres of water each day – either water, diluted fruit juice, vegetable juices, herbal teas. It’s better to sip throughout day than consume all at once.
If you have to have coffee, have it earlier in the day or have a decaffeinated coffee later in the afternoon.
Exercise & movement
When you exercise you produce adenosine – this suppresses adrenaline and initiates chemical changes necessary for sleep, so exercise and an active lifestyle:
- Helps to shift weight and improve breathing
- Boosts endorphins and serotonin that makes us feel relaxed and happy
- Helps to open up part of brain involved with creativity and problem solving
It’s a good idea to vary routines and try to do a little every day – even a little helps. Walking up the escalator rather than riding it, going for a run on the beach, vacuuming the carpet, a yoga or exercise class or competitive sport. If you are part of a team competing in a game in the evening, allow yourself a wind down period before bed. View our top tips for natural sleep.