NUTRITION Rx: sound sleep

Registered Dietitian Ellie Kempton outlines how important sleep is for our wellbeing as well as 5 ways to promote optimal sleep.

We’ve all been there, the clock keeps ticking, you have to wake up in just a few short hours, and try as you might you just CAN’T fall asleep. The frustration mounts and your ability to find peace and sound sleep slips farther and father away. Does this sound familiar? Insomnia [difficulty falling or staying asleep] is thought to effect 1/4 to 1/3 of all adults and HALF of those over the age of 65.

Believe it or not, sleep deprivation can lead to more than just brain fog. Sleep is as vital to our health as the food we eat. Adequate sleep can make us stronger, smarter, happier, and more productive. On the flip side, insomnia can lead to decreased performance, cognitive impairment [think brain fog], weight gain, hypertension, and increased stress.

We have compiled a list of our favorite sleep promoting tips to help you get the restorative and health promoting [sound ] sleep your body craves.

TOP 5 TIPS FOR SWEET SLUMBER:

1. Set a caffeine curfew! Caffeine is a stimulant and can keep you awake long after you’ve finished consuming it. Try cutting out caffeine after 12pm. If this doesn’t help, it may be beneficial to try eliminating caffeine all together.

2. Breathe it out! De-stressing can be difficult, breathing exercises have been shown to relax your mind and relieve stress. Try using “box breathing” to achieve the calm mind you require for restful sleep. “Box breathing” asks you to close your eyes and mouth and breath in slowly through your nose. Count to four as you inhale. Hold your breath for four seconds. Open your mouth slightly and slowly exhale to a count of four. Hold the exhale to another count of four. Ideally, you should repeat the exercise for four minutes, but two or three times will help you to achieve a more relaxed state, relieve tension and settle your nerves.

3. Give aromatherapy a try! Lavender essential oil is known to promote restful sleep and improve the sleep of those who suffer from insomnia. Try placing lavender essential oil in a diffuser in your bedroom at bedtime.

4. Brew herbal sleep supportive or chamomile tea! These are soothing teas that can help promote restful sleep and are best enjoyed before bedtime. They should be brewed strongly with up to 2-3 tea bags that are allowed to steep for several minutes

5.Enjoy Flax seeds! Flax seeds contain tryptophan AND omega 3-s which help increase the level of serotonin [sleep regulating hormone] while also reducing anxiety and stress which can cause insomnia. Try adding these to smoothies, oatmeal, or salads for an easy way to incorporate this beneficial seed into your daily diet! Crave more information re: flax? Click HERE for a recipe + beautiful infographic.

No comments yet.