There is only 1 out of 4 of us that is getting a solid 8 hours a night, with the average being only 6.5 hours of sleep per night.
Where do you fall on the Sleep Needs Spectrum according to the National Sleep Foundation?
- Newborns: 14-17 hours
- Infants: 12-15 hours
- Toddlers: 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers: 10-13 hours
- School-aged Children: 9-11 hours
- Teens: 8-10 hours
- Adults: 7-9 hours
- Older Adults (65+) 7-8 hours
- If you are have an illness you may require more sleep to aid the body’s healing processes
Unfortunately this is the reality for many people, because 1 in 3 are regularly affected by insomnia.
Most of us conscious humans know what happens to our bodies and our state of mind when we don’t get enough sleep. Fogginess, lack of coordination, poor concentration, sluggish immune system, just to name a few obvious symptoms. People may also experience more colds, flus, headaches and migraines. When we don’t get our recommended quality and quantity of sleep we interfere with the body’s night and day circadian rhythms, the seasonal adjustments, which can impact many facets of our health.
Our brains produce a hormone called melatonin which is involved in the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythms such as the sleep-wake cycle and it’s release leads to feelings of “sleepiness”.
The hormone is it’s most active prior to bedtime if the environment is right. Melatonin is released in higher amounts when the environment is darker and in smaller amounts when there is more light. When we are exposed to artificial lights (phones, tablets, TV, computers) before bedtime, we are essentially disrupting this hormone production and our melatonin levels thus impacting on our sleep. People who are sleep deprived have a compromised immune system that will never reach its full potential.
It is important to remember that sleep is important for so many different aspects of our health including our digestion, lymphatic, circulatory, respiratory, reproductive and mental health.
Foods that aid sleep include:
- Herbal Tea
Non caffeinated herbal teas such as chamomile tea are know to have mild natural sedative effects, helping people to doze off. Chamomile tea is associated with an increase of glycine, which is a chemical that is known to relax muscles and have a mild sedative affect on the body.
- Foods Rich In Magnesium
Magnesium is involved in the functioning of GABA receptors, which is the primary neurotransmitter that acts to calm the central nervous system, relax the body and prepare it for sleep. Dietary sources of magnesium include; sesame seeds, spinach, cacao, pumpkin seeds, and Brazil nuts. You may also be interested to know that can absorb magnesium through your skin and that an Epsom salt bath salt bath will help ensure you are getting plenty of it.
- Foods Rich In Vitamin B
One of the most important vitamins for sleep help is the B vitamins, with some deficiencies linked to insomnia. B vitamins together with a number of important enzymes work together to help promote sleep by stimulating serotonin, dopamine, GABA and melatonin activity.
Dietary sources of this amazing vitamin include; tuna, salmon, chicken, bananas, chickpeas, green leafy vegetables, organ meats such as liver and eggs.
- Leafy Green Vegetables
Dark leafy green vegetables are packed full of calcium, which assists the brain to use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin.
Dietary sources include; kale, spinach and mustard greens.
Well, well, well… researchers have found that walnuts actually contain their own source of the melatonin which can help you to fall asleep faster – how convenient is that?
We all know that bananas are loaded with potassium and magnesium but what you might not know is that they are natural muscle relaxants and contain tryptophan which serves as a precursor for serotonin and melatonin.
Lifestyle Tips to Improving Quality of Sleep
So tonight before bed, grab a nice, warm cup of chamomile tea, a handful of walnuts and jump into an Epsom salt bath, switch off from your electronics and allow yourself time to wind down from your day before jumping into bed and let me know how you feel in the morning. I have a feeling you will be thanking me. Sweet dreams…