Ireland’s best known Sleep Consultant, Lucy Wolfe, gives some tips for getting a good night’s sleep
Sleep is necessary to ensure that you are optimally functioning. While sleeping our brain and body is repairing and restoring, supervising a wide variety of biological maintenance jobs and ensuring that we can function at a high level by day and live a long and healthy life.
So many force factors affect our sleep, including psychological, physiological and environmental. Everything you eat and drink can affect and aid a restful sleep.
Anti-sleep foods include: Sugar, processed, high-sugar foods and refined carbohydrates. These raise the blood sugar levels and can cause a surge of energy that disturbs sleep, so it is best to avoid these food types if you want to enhance sleep.
Sleep Super Foods:
The non-medical equivalent to a sleeping pill; containing the sleep hormone melatonin and relaxing chemical serotonin and also magnesium, that helps to relax the muscles.
Milk, cottage cheese, yoghurt and cheese are all good sources of tryptophan that helps to make serotonin; which makes us feel sleepy. Also, dairy contains calcium which helps the body to process the tryptophan and produce a second sleep inducing neurotransmitter; melatonin.
Oats are a rich source of melatonin and are filling too.
A spoon of honey in milk is an age-old remedy for insomnia. Too much sugar is stimulating, but a little glucose signals to your brain to turn off orexin, which is a neurotransmitter linked to alertness.
A slice of brown bread toast with a drink of milk and honey is delicious, but also useful. This will release insulin, which enables the tryptophan (makes us sleepy), to get to the brain, where it is converted to serotonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, which in turn lets the body know it is sleep time.
Seeds and Almonds
Some seeds – flaxseed, jujube seeds and chia seeds can have a calming and sedative effect. Another sleep-inducing food-you can get them ground or whole. They contain both tryptophan and also magnesium that helps to relax muscles.
A small baked potato won’t send your GI tract into overload; it will clear away acids that can inhibit our sleepy friend tryptophan in order to make way for restful sleep.
This is probably the best source of tryptophan. Put a slice of turkey on some wholegrain bread and you have one of the best sleep-enhancing foods that you will use.
Some Shift Work Suggestions:
● Try to eat regularly despite your shift
● Be careful of caffeine intake towards the end of the shift – remember it takes six to eight hours to clear from system
● If coming from a night shift, go straight home
● Be mindful of technology – use one to two hours before sleep time
● Wear sunglasses to offset the morning light stimulating the waking part of brain
● Ensure that the temperature in bedroom is cool by day
● Black out blinds, eye masks, white noise can be helpful
● Sleep in two parts to reach your sleep quota
Further Natural Solutions to Enhance Sleep
● Magnesium spray
● Epsom salt baths
● Iron supplements
● Essential Oils: chamomile, lavender, camphor, vetiver, chamomile – diffuser, candles, body lotion, bed and body spray
● Chamomile/Lavender Tea
● Salt therapy Air Purifier-good for sinus, snoring, asthma etc
Sleep Through Body & Bed Sleep Spray (100ml €19.99) is a natural blend of essential oils including Lavender, Cinnamon, Camphor, Vetiver and Chamomile used by generations to help improve the quality and duration of sleep. Spray on chest area and lightly on bedclothes 30 minutes before sleep.
Sleep Through Relaxing Rub (100ml €19.99) This Relaxing Rub designed by Lucy is a natural blend of essential oils including Lavender, Eucalyptus, Clove and Chamomile. Rub the lotion onto chest, wrists and soles of feet 20-30 minutes before bedtime as part of your pre-sleep ritual.
Lucy Wolfe CGSC, MAPSC, H.Dip RM, runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise and valuable support to people across the country. She is a regular guest on television and radio, writing for many magazines and online media sources. She is passionate about helping people get more sleep!
Find further sleep solutions on her website www.sleepmatters.ie