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According to the newest research, people, who sleep six hours a night or less are four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus, compared to those who spend more than seven hours a night.

However, very often we toss and turn for hours. Why? “There are all sorts of reasons why we find it hard to get our RDA of shut eye, from noise, room temperature, bodily discomfort, a snoring partner and simply over-thinking the day’s events. 24-hour city living can play it’s toll, leaving us tired but wired and prone to irritability, lack of patience, forgetfulness, heightened emotions, stress and even anxiety.” says Shona Wilkinson, Head Nutritonist at www.nutricentre.com

Elouise Bauskis, Nutritionist at Nutricentre.com gives her top tips to get a good night’s sleep:

 

Melatonin levels

  • Melatonin is known as the body’s sleep hormone; therefore increasing your body’s melatonin levels can improve your sleep quality. It is secreted by your pineal gland normally only in darkness. The ‘blue light’ component of artificial light switches off the body’s production of melatonin. Invest in some yellow lenses or yellow glasses that you can wear for a couple of hours (1-3 hours) before going to bed, which will allow your pineal gland to produce melatonin. They have been shown to improve sleep quality and mood by blocking blue light and simulating physiologic darkness
  • Make sure you are sleeping in a darkened room, as light will disrupt melatonin production. Consider black-out curtains or blinds if your bedroom is at all light during the night
  • If you have to get up to use the toilet at night, DO NOT switch on any lights as this will flip your body into daytime mode which can prevent you being able to get off to sleep again
  • Avoid blue light a few hours before bed (for example a computer, other electrical devices such as mobile phones)
  • Consider taking Asphalia or a Cherry extract, which contain naturally occurring melatonin

 

 

Circadian Rhythms

  • Establish and maintain a regular sleep and wake cycle – which includes weekends – which will balance your circadian rhythm, which will distinguish night time from day time

Bedtime Routine

  • Establish and maintain a regular and relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading a book for a while, having a cup of soothing herbal tea
  • Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime, such as work, watching the news, or TV, using a computer, playing computer games
  • Have a bath before bedtime and add 5 drops of lavender essential oil which has a relaxing and mildly tranquilising effect
  • Dab some lavender essential oil on your temples, forehead and-or pillow before bedtime to help calm and relax

 

 

 

 

Bedroom Environment

  • Keep the bedroom just for sleep and sex
  • Establish the mood of the room, making it a calm and relaxing environment, this includes the colour of the walls, bed linen and décor, avoiding very bright, stimulating colours
  • Keep work out of the bedroom, as well as mobile phones, computers and TV
  • If it causes you anxiety to look at or hear the clock, then move it out of view

Avoid Stimulants

  • Avoid caffeine 6-8 hours before going to bed
  • Avoid alcohol – most of us think that alcohol is a sedative, but the reality is it actually disrupts sleep and causes night time awakening

 

 

 

 

Tryptophan

  • Have a snack before bed that is high tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is used to make serotonin (which aside from making you happier, will also help you sleep better). Foods high in tryptophan include turkey, dairy products (the ‘old-school’ glass of hot milk before bed), bananas, oats and fish

High Cortisol

  • Cortisol is the primary stress-response hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is highly energising and stimulating. It is meant to be highest in the morning and lowest between 12 and 4 am. If your cortisol levels are high in the evening (due to excess stress), you may have a ‘second wind’ in the evening
  • Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that tonifies and strengthens the adrenals, helping to reduce cortisol levels whilst supporting adrenal function
  • You can also support the adrenals with B vitamins, vitamin C and other adaptogenic herbs such as Siberian ginseng, Ashwagandha

Relaxing Nutrients & Herbs

  • Magnesium is ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ as it relaxes muscles and nerves. Unfortunately, many of us are deficient in this powerful mineral. Have a good quality magnesium supplement before bed, or consider magnesium oil which you spray onto the skin
  • Valerian, Passionflower and Chamomile are relaxing and sedating herbs, which can be used both throughout the day, into the evening and even during the night to help bring on sleep

 

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