INSHAPE NEWS NUTRITION
Photo Credit: Ahmed Mahin Fayez, 2012 – Sleep –
Diana Robinson – Nutritionist
When was the last time you woke up feeling refreshed and ready to get out of bed and start your day? Don’t remember? Then you could probably use these helpful tips to ensure a better quality sleep.
#1 Don’t stimulate yourself too much during the day. This can be especially difficult to stick to when you have not been sleeping well, as you are most likely feeling fatigued throughout the day and rely on caffeine and sugar to get you through. The trouble is, the more you use coffee, energy drinks or sugar to perk you up throughout the day, the worse you are making the issue by overstimulating and exhausting your adrenals. Have you ever heard of the term tired and wired? Where you are completely exhausted at the end of the day, yet can’t switch off enough to sleep? Or you may fall asleep but either wake frequently during the night. Or you have a sketchy sleep and wake still feeling tired.
If you can limit your stimulant intake during the day, and incorporate calming teas such as lavender and chamomile, you will help to reduce nervous tension. Reducing that nervous tension build up throughout the day will help you to unwind and switch off at the end of the day.
# 2 Are you doing it? If not, do it. Exercise is a great way to release stress and tension built up from the day. It also releases feel-good endorphins and can help to make you feel extra sleepy at the end of the day.
If you are exercising, what time are you doing it? It is not a good idea to exercise past 7 pm, as your body’s cortisol (a stress hormone) should be waning at this time to allow for the production of melatonin (your sleep hormone). Exercising spikes cortisol, so if you exercise when you should be winding down, you can interfere with your hormonal pathway which can affect sleep. For example, you should start to feel sleepy between 9-10pm when your body is manufacturing melatonin. However, if you exercise late in the evening and spike your cortisol, your melatonin production gets pushed back so you may not be able to drift off to sleep until 12 or 1 am when the next wave of melatonin comes around.
#3 Ensure you create a peaceful atmosphere in your home in order to promote a feeling of calm. Use dim lights, or even better, candle light in the home for the hours before bed to help support the body’s production of melatonin (light from screens – T.V, iPhone etc. can interrupt melatonin production). Have an oil burner in the bedroom with scents of lavender and valerian, and drink a calming tea an hour before bed to help wind down.
Keep your bedroom clean and tidy. Nobody likes sleeping in a mess. Creating a beautiful space for you to relax in before bed is essential to help you wind down and slip into a calming and restful sleep.
Diana Robinson is a Melbourne based nutritionist working in clinical practice with a special interest in food intolerance, fitness and mood disorders.
Diana graduated from Melbourne’s Endeavour College of Natural Health with a Bachelor Degree in Health Science – Nutritional Medicine. She is a firm believer in living life to the full and taking care of your body by feeding it healthy, nutritious food but not forgetting to nourish your mental wellbeing also.
Diana encourages patients to seek enjoyment from the food they eat rather than having a negative relationship with food. When you learn to eat right, you will learn that food is your friend and not your enemy.
You can follow her Instagram for inspiration and recipes @dianar_nutrition.
Disclaimer: The information published in this column are the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have about any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.
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