It’s rare for a week to go by without sleep, or our lack of, hitting the headlines. In 2019 so far, fresh research has already revealed that getting the right amount of sleep can reduce the intensity that we feel pain the following day and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. But, studies have also suggested that not getting enough could leave you more open to infections and more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.Read More…
Sleep is a huge topic and with new research suggesting that the average Brit regularly survives on less than six hours of sleep a night and catching up, it’s safe to say that it’s an issue that we have all struggled with at some point or another. In their latest live video, Trinny and Shabir discussed the most common sleep problems and the natural remedies that could help alleviate them.
Why is sleep so important?
When it comes to sleep we often focus on the problems we have falling asleep or staying asleep, rather than why it’s so important. You might assume it is a time when your mind and body shut down, but it’s actually when your body is processing, repairing and strengthening. While you sleep all the information from the day is processed and some of this information is moved from your short term memory into your long term memory and others are deleted. It’s also when your body manufactures hormones, repairs damaged tissues and produces new cells.
During the first three hours of sleep, your body produces human growth hormone from the pituitary gland. This hormone is vital for maintenance of youthful and radiant skin because it is involved in the repair of the damages caused to skin on a daily basis whether from external or internal sources. The middle two hours of sleep is when melatonin levels increase. Melatonin is a hormone that is involved in the circadian rhythm which is the pattern of sleep/wake-up but it also is a powerful antioxidant working to remove any free radicals that arise from the all the reparative processes that are undergoing whilst we are sleeping. During the final two or three hours, levels of cortisol drop, muscles relax giving skin its deepest recovery time.
How can you get back to sleep?
Waking up after three or four hours of sleep is a common problem, especially during menopause. Don’t just lie there trying to force yourself back to sleep, instead try some chamomile tea or caffeine-free green tea as this has l-theanine, which help relax the body and mind. Cherry Night by Viridian is also worth looking into as cherries are rich in melatonin and magnesium, which are particularly good for people who battle with restless sleep. You have to use it on a daily basis to reap the benefits.
Cortisol (stress hormone) levels should also be looked at as it blocks the release of your serotonin, which balances your mood and aids sleep. Sleep Tight by Natures Aid contains Magnolia, which helps to rebalance your cortisol levels, as well as Passionflower and Hops which act as natural sedatives. Eclectic Kids Sleep Support offers a natural remedy for children from the age of 12 months and above.
What about taking melatonin supplements?
Melatonin supplements definitely help you sleep better, however in the UK they need to be prescribed by your doctor. There may be a couple of risks as it is tricky to get the dosage correct and some believe long term use of the synthetic versions could possibly hinder your body’s own production. Instead, you may opt for cherries which provide a natural form of melatonin to hopefully replenish your stores.
Does a lack of sleep cause weight gain?
There is a direct link between not getting enough sleep and gaining weight. Despite common belief, it’s not because you are awake for longer and eating more. The increase in cortisol that wakes you up also stimulates your pancreas to produce more insulin, which is responsible for regulating your sugar levels.
How do you beat the afternoon slump?
A dip in energy at around 3pm in the afternoon can be due to not getting enough sleep or what you ate for lunch. If you had a carb-heavy lunch you might find your energy levels crash after about two and a half hours because your body has burned off the sugar. You might find a power nap (less than 20-minutes) will help you recharge.
How can you ease restless leg syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome is usually associated with an iron deficiency or low magnesium levels – over 60% of us are thought to have deficient levels of magnesium. Start by upping your magnesium levels, either with an oil spray, such as Pure Magnesium Oil Spray by Life-Flo or bathing in the flakes with Magnesium Oil Original Flakes by Better You. If you don’t see any improvement after a couple of weeks, try incorporating an iron supplement.
What are the benefits of liposomal supplements?
Liposomaltechnology is the future of vitamin supplements. Moisture, light and oxygen can compromise the quality of tablet and capsule supplements and the nutrients can also be compromised by your stomach acid and digestive enzymes as well as the food in your gut, which affects how much is actually absorbed. Liposomal supplements use a technology that protects these nutrients and delivers them into the gut from where they are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Aurora NutraScience has a full range of liposomal supplements, including vitamin C, D3 and curcumin.
How can you reduce bloating?
First and foremost, make sure you chew your food thoroughly. Taking apple cider vinegar regularly helps to aid your digestive system as it contains acetic acid. Your body also naturally produces digestive enzymes, which help break down the fibres, carbohydrates, fats and sugars from your meal. However, as we age our production slows, so it is worth supplementing them with Enhanced Super Digestive Enzymes.
When should you take your supplements?
If you’re going to take vitamins, you should take them with some form of food because this will signal your brain to produce digestive enzymes to ensure you absorb the maximum amount of these vitamins. Amino acids, on the other hand, are the building blocks for proteins and should always be taken on an empty stomach because they may be neutralised by dairy and other foods.
As we lie awake at night with a million thoughts running round in our heads, it’s easy to blame our busy minds for stopping us sleeping. On the surface that might be the case, but of course many things influence how we sleep from the natural such as daylight – to what time we switched off our screens that evening. In truth, there is still much mystery surrounding the science of good sleep and the brain, but one of the most interesting areas of research at the moment is how the gut biome (the vast community of bacteria, fungi and yeasts which populate our digestive tract) could be a big influencer on quality and quantity of shut eye.
We already know that the gut biome affects the hormones which control our appetite, and now a recent study by scientists at University of Colorado suggests that prebiotics (a particular type of fibre which encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut) can promote Non Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, which is restful and restorative as well as helping to increase Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep after being exposed to a stressor. While the researchers say more studies are needed, this seems to indicate that regular intake of prebiotics could be helpful in supporting sleep patterns after periods of stress.
Gut biome aside, most of us are aware that what we eat affects how we sleep through experience – think of that old saying about cheese and nightmares. There’s some truth in that since heavy, fatty foods are more difficult for the body to process, therefore eating them late at night is not a good idea. Makes sense when we consider that good sleep relies on the release of a complex cascade of chemicals and hormones, and that eating well and allowing the body to absorb proper nutrients provides the brain with what it needs for this to happen.
Various studies suggest eating at a time when we’d naturally be sleeping could have adverse effects on weight and metabolic health and it’s all inter-connected via our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythms are what keep our body clock running on time, which in turn keeps all of our bodily functions running on schedule — such as falling asleep at night, waking up in the morning, feeling hungry when we need energy and metabolising the food we eat. What, when and how we eat can help regulate this roughly 24-hour cycle our body follows each day.
Looking at things from a wider perspective often brings us back to ancient holistic wisdom. For example, in the yogic system of Ayurveda it’s believed that digestive fire – known as Agni – is at its most powerful when the sun is highest in the sky, therefore the best time to eat your biggest meal is around midday. And yet how many of us eat our main meal in the evening? This was always my habit – after all, going out for dinner is one of the most enjoyable ways we socialise these days. But, coming in late at night from eating a large meal would inevitably keep me awake, and even if I hadn’t drunk anything, I’d feel like I had a hangover next morning.
Having swapped timings in favour of main meal at lunch or more often brunch, I’ve found eating light in the evening to be a catalyst for better digestion and sleep. That’s not to say I never go out for a big dinner in the evening – it’s just I make it the exception rather than the rule. As always, it comes down to balance, and here are some suggestions for subtly adjusting eating habits in favour of good sleep.
Introduce prebiotic foods into your diet. These include lentils, chickpeas and hummus, butter beans, globe artichoke, leeks – all of which are a source of the particular type of fibre which encourages the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Re-think meal timings considering dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) which is when the body winds down in preparation for sleep and starts producing the sleep hormone melatonin. For most of us, our DLMO usually begins around 8pm so it would be good to time eating before then. Or, allow two hours between eating and bedtime to allow time to unwind and digest.
Ayurvedic thinking suggests warm, liquid foods are the most easily digested in the evening. So for example, lentil dahl, which tastes great when made with leek; root vegetable soups or stews including lentils or chick peas; sweet basmati rice pudding made with dairy or non dairy milk with cardamom, grated ginger and dates.
Keep in mind it’s not great to go to bed hungry, considering that our bodies use energy at night when it goes into repair mode. Rather than reaching for typical midnight snacks (crisps, chocolate etc) try hot milk. At one of the best retreats I’ve stayed in in India they brought a pre-bed small cup of locally sourced organic milk, heated with a little saffron. To my surprise, it was the most satiating, satisfying sleep-inducing thing – not to mention delicious.
Most of us know and understand that restful sleep is the cornerstone of health. Lack of sleep causes far more problems than simply feeling sluggish in the morning. Not getting sufficient sleep on a regular basis results in a lack of focus and difficulty to carry out everyday tasks. This may be fine for the odd day or two, however constantly losing focus results in a significant decrease in work efficiency and an inability to respond to everyday stressors.
Sleep studies seem to indicate that most people nowadays seem to get six hours of sleep every day whereas the recommended duration is between seven and eight hours. This difference between two equates to almost one night’s less sleep in a week! More of us than ever are sleep deprived. Read More…
There are a number of life aspects that we all need to be careful about in order to stay healthy. Eating a healthy diet and incorporating some form of exercise are essential, but sleep is equally important. A good night’s rest has many implications beyond just making you feel refreshed. Insufficient sleep usually makes us irritable and more likely to suffer from anxiety. Additionally, a lack of sleep is implicated in heart disease and weight gain.
Summer can be a very difficult season for sleep. During the summer months, there is more light later in the day and your body rhythm needs to shift accordingly. Light signals your body what time of the day it is. If it is bright late at night, this can push your rhythm back. If you normally go to bed at 10 pm then due to brighter light during summer your body thinks it is earlier, thus it will take some time to adjust.
There are many other problems that can disturb sleep patterns during the summer months. Allergies can be a big problem because there are many sufferers of hay fever who simply cannot get sufficient sleep during the night time due to blocked noses and breathing difficulties. Read More…