Seven steps to a better night's sleep

Having trouble sleeping? Try these diet and lifestyle tips for getting a good sleep.

The quality of our sleep is related to what we do during the day. Here's how to fuel your body so you sleep more easily:

Reduce your caffeine intake

Caffeine can affect our ability to fall asleep and reduce the quality of sleep. It stimulates production of stress hormones and inhibits absorption of a hormone that gives us a sense of calmness. So avoid coffee or drinks such as black tea or energy drinks after 2pm.

Drink calming herbal teas

Having teas such as chamomile, passionflower, valerian or skullcap before bed relaxes the nervous system. Use single herbs or a combination - simply pour boiling water onto two teaspoons of dried herbs in a cup, leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes, then enjoy.

Take more magnesium

It is considered the 'anti-stress' nutrient as it calms and supports the nervous system. Tofu, legumes, seeds, nuts, wholegrains (oats, barley, millet, quinoa), wheat bran and green leafy vegetables are all rich in magnesium. Or take 500mg a day in a supplement.

Boost your melatonin levels

This hormone is produced naturally at night to promote sleep. To boost melatonin production, increase your sunlight exposure, meditate and reduce stress levels. Good food sources include oats, sweetcorn, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, almonds and seeds.

Reduce your alcohol intake

Alcohol may help you fall sleep initially, but it will interrupt your most restful, deepest REM sleep cycle.

It's also thought that people who consume alcohol regularly have lower levels of natural melatonin in their body, which can contribute to sleeping difficulties.

Exercise regularly

Exercising during the day can make it easier to fall asleep at night, and stay asleep. It can also increase the amount of time you spend in the deepest stage of sleep. Some people find exercising too late in the day too stimulating, so earlier may be better.

Create a lavender ritual

Lavender essential oil has a lovely calming effect on the nervous system. It can assist relaxation and help get you off to sleep. Place a few drops of lavender oil in a warm bath before bed or in an oil burner, or place some dried lavender near your bed at night.

Experiencing issues with sleep quality or insomnia? Book your consultation with Aurora today at High Street Natural Health.

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