Do you struggle to fall asleep, and when you finally do, you find yourself waking up during the night and then can’t get back to sleep? Read below to uncover the secret to better sleep so you have more energy and can feel alive!
Good quality sleep is a necessity for healthy, long-term health. Many factors determine the quality of sleep. In our busy lives, it’s easy to stay up longer than we should, but hitting the hay an hour earlier can actually have its benefits.
When we sleep, our bodies are designed to restore, repair and protect our bodies. In the first three hours, we are asleep, our bodies secrete growth hormones, collagen being one. Collagen repairs and protects body cells such as skin and hair. In conjunction with this, cell production increases to aid in repairing and growth of cells. Rapid eye movement (REM) kicks in and produces melatonin, an antioxidant that affects our sleep cycle as well as the colour of our skin and hair. The deepest REM sleep occurs in the final 3 hours. This is where cells really start to repair, rebuild and regenerate.
Majority of people have difficulty switching off their minds, stressing and worrying about lots of things. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows things down and is mostly secreted in the evening, and when the evening gets darker melatonin is produced to aid in sleep. However, under stress and strains of modern life, we can get stuck with higher levels of cortisol (over stimulates the nervous system) and lower levels of GABA, resulting in agitation and an inability to relax.
A lack of sleep can make your eyes darker by altering the level of cortisol flowing through our blood vessels and can alter neurotransmitters to mimic the symptoms of mood disorders. Nutrition can play a role in getting our GABA levels up and helping us relax, below are some vitamins and minerals that can enhance GABA:
- Magnesium is key for relaxing and winding down; firstly, it acts as a muscle relaxant and also helps to elevate levels of GABA.
- Vitamin B6 is essential in converting glutamate into GABA.
- Zinc, a vital mineral is required to activate vitamin B6 to enhance GABA production.
- Prebiotic fibre (e.g. Inulin powder)
Prebiotics can also aid in a good nights kip. Why? Because prebiotics increase good bacteria in the gut; there are certain carbohydrates that do not get digested and cannot reach the gut to feed the beneficial bacteria, this allows absorption for more nutrients from foods digested essential for our body to function. Prebiotics in the gut is broken down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) by the beneficial bacteria. SCFA improve our sleep by regulating blood sugar and energy sources which can fluctuate overnight. These fluctuations cause disturbed sleep and by stabilising blood sugar and energy, prebiotics can improve the quality of sleep. Dr Michael Mosley conducted a study on himself; he took a prebiotic fibre supplement for 5 days roughly 20 minutes before he slept. He found it increased the time that he was asleep and decreased the time in bed that he spent awake, as well as improved the quality of his sleep. The time he spent in the rapid eye movement stage of sleep increased, stating he woke up feeling refreshed.
In addition to nutrition, the behaviour you have before you sleep affects the quality and duration of sleep. A healthy sleeping routine involves maintaining a regular bedtime, having your bedroom at the right temperature and not exposing yourself to technology at least an hour before your bedtime.
Here are some tips that you can take to get to sleep quicker and better.
- Switch off your phone
- Avoid screens in the hour before you go to bed
- Keep to a bedtime routine
- Keep the hour before bed the same every night
- Avoid heavy foods and drinks
- Try not to drink caffeine after 4 pm, or alcohol at night
- Do not eat heavy meals in the 2 hours before bedtime
- Try not to nap more than 20 minutes in a day
So you can see to achieve a good night’s sleep is not difficult with the right guidance and expert attention to detail, to get you from having low energy throughout the day to feeling alive and having a rested night’s sleep that you deserve.
As pioneers in our field, the nutritional information we provide is second to none and can only be found at Perfect Balance Clinic. We aim to get you to feel your best by achieving optimal results.
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