Sleep is one of the most fundamental and yet underrated aspects of health. So many of our body systems are influenced by our sleep quality, and it is our body’s most dedicated time to rest and rejuvenate. Poor quality or insufficient sleep can greatly influence our mood, cognitive function, ability to focus, energy, and physical performance. Over time, our sleep habits can also impact things like immunity, emotional balance and even our weight.
While everyone is different, experts claim the average adult needs between 7-9 hours of restorative sleep every night, and children need even more. Studies have shown that even one lost hour of sleep can impact physical health and cognitive function the next day. This lost time has been coined “sleep debt” and when accumulated over a number of days can have a dramatic impact on the way we function.
What measures can we take to help set us up for a good night’s sleep?
Exposure to sunlight during the day
The circadian rhythm of the day (24 hour cycle) regulates our sleep-wake pattern, and is reinforced by the presence of light and dark. Being active during the light cycle of the day can help to increase our serotonin levels. At night, serotonin is converted into melatonin – often referred to as the darkness hormone, which may assist with sleep. When taken at night, natural melatonin supplements such as tart cherry may assist with keeping the body synchronised with this circadian rhythm.
Up the magnesium
Magnesium assists with over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Helping to support a more restorative sleep is included in this. In addition, magnesium may also support the nervous system and stress management. This mineral is a muscle relaxant which can help the body to relax and ease pain. Magnesium is found in foods such as dark green vegetables, bananas, dark chocolate, cacao, nuts and seeds. Sometimes it can be difficult to get adequate quantities through food alone due to depleted mineral levels. A good quality magnesium supplement is often a great starting point to help support a more restorative sleep.
Stimulants, such as caffeine, stimulate our cortisol levels, which in turn may inhibit melatonin production. If you’re struggling to switch off at night, or feeling particularly anxious, try cutting back on the coffees or restricting it to only one mid morning cup.
Adopt a relaxing nighttime routine
Ideally start to wind down for bed about 2 hours before you intend to sleep. Relaxing activities such as reading a book, taking a bath or sipping a chamomile tea can be great to help reduce stress and calm the mind before sleep. Try to avoid screens at this time as the blue light emitted from them can disrupt our sleep patterns. Also try to avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed to give your body plenty of time to rest and digest.
Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only. Please do not use this information to diagnose or treat any health concerns you may have. This information is not intended to replace the advice given to you by a qualified health professional. Get in contact with a Tonic Health consultant or a relevant health professional if you need guidance on your individual health journey.