Tips for a better nights sleep

Has counting sheep and reading failed you? This article is going to help you have the BEST sleep you have had in a long time!

why is sleep important

Sleep is a part of life that we cannot avoid and rightly so, but why is it so important for us to sleep? As amazing as it would be if we did not have to sleep, our bodies require adequate rest to ensure we are in good health both mentally and physically.

As we sleep the body is still working hard to support brain function and maintain physical health through cellular repair and protein synthesis amongst other things. Our body works so hard that through an entire 8 hours sleep we only burn 100 less calories than if we were awake. All nighters can seem like a great idea especially when you're loaded with work, but they can really hinder your body's ability to learn, work and react to situations. Sleep deprivation is heavily linked to depression as your brain can have issues with controlling emotion and decision making.

The science of sleep

The process of falling asleep is much more complex than it seems, if only it was as simple as closing your eyes. For the body to transition from wakefulness to unconsciousness a number of chemical and neurological responses must occur.

Lower body temperature
Allowing the brain to rest
Cell Repair and Protein synthesis
Hormone Release

The stages of sleep

There are 5 stages of sleep, 4 being non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and 1 rapid eye movement (REM), these two types make up the single cycle of sleep we have every night.

Stage 1 & 2
Stage 3 & 4

Each night the body can cycle through these stages of sleep 4-5 times, earlier in the night the body tends to cycle NREM stages and later in the evening is when REM sleep tends to occur.

Stages of sleep
What can affect your sleep?

The ability to get a great nights sleep can be affected by a number of things..

While oestrogen is primarily a female reproductive hormone men also have trace amounts within the body to help support serotonin, magnesium utilisation, bone formation and healthy skin.

As women approach menopause, levels of oestrogen can plummet dramatically which leads to irregular periods, hot flushes, mood swings and joint pains. These symptoms are what can affect your ability to have a great nights sleep. Magnesium levels are also affected by a reduction in oestrogen, which can hinder your bodies 

Testosterone is the primary male reproductive hormone but women have small traces within the body, as it assists in regulation of muscle and bone mass.

In males testosterone levels decline over the years which can lead to insomnia symptoms. Levels of testosterone are at it's highest during REM sleep.

For natural ways to increase your testosterone you should; weight train at least 3 times per week and incorporate foods that are high in zinc and vitamin D into your diet.

The brain is incredibly similar to the heart in the fact that it never truly gets a rest. The brain is continuously functioning to control thoughts, behaviour, emotions and memory. 

From the moment you wake the Prefrontal Cortex is working away to receive and process information. Even if you're doing absolutely nothing the prefrontal cortex is still processing, try your best not to think, you can't do it can you.

Insulin is known for regulating blood sugar levels, this essential hormone is created in the pancreas to help the body to utilise sugar (glucose).

Too much glucose can be detrimental to health causing issues such as sleep deprivation. Poor or no sleep increases blood sugar level leading to poor eating habits, creating more insulin being released into the body and thus affecting your ability to sleep.

Do NOT binge on too many sugary foods before bedtime or you may find yourself within this cycle.

The Thyroid is a vital gland that produces two hormones, Triiodothyronine (T3) anf Thyroxine (T4) which are necessary for regulating metabolic rate as well as aiding digestive function and brain development.

Huge problems can occur when the thyroid becomes under active (hypothyroidism) or over active (hyperthyroidism). 

Hypothyroidism is often associated with symptoms of fatigue, as the body is lacking in T3 and T4, this lack of hormones can lead to sleep apnoea, causing partial or complete obstructions of the upper airway.

Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is associated with nervousness, irritability, sweating and heart palpitations causing further restlessness and difficulty sleeping. 

Cortisol is the primary stress hormone and is produced by your adrenal glands. Helping to regulate metabolism and reduce inflammation.

During the evening and as we begin to wake our cortisol levels tend to spike, allowing us to wake up feeling refreshed. Feeling stressed or anxious before bed make falling asleep exceptionally difficult as cortisol levels rise considerably, reducing melatonin levels which affect your sleep cycle.

our tips to improve sleep

Practice these methods to catch some better Zzzz's

Avoid your phone
Stick to a schedule
Make a diary
Read a book
Have a warm bath
Adjust your Sleeping position
Food and drinks that can help you sleep

Eating specific foods can assist in calming your nervous system and help to trigger a sleep-inducing hormonal response that help you to relax.

containing melatonin -

There are a number of foods that contain traces of melatonin, these foods are; Tomatoes, Walnuts, Olives, Rice, Barley, Strawberries, Cherries , Oats and Cow's Milk

Chamomile Tea -

Chamomile tea is a tried and tested method to helping sleep, this non-caffeinated tea is an excellent herb to help ensure your sleep.

Chamomile tea helps you to sleep

banana -

Bananas are known to be high in potassium, a mineral that is essential to achieving a deep sleep.  Banana also contains tryptophan and magnesium, this is natures very own sleeping pill.

horlicks -

Horlicks is a brand which has been established since the late 1800's and has helped millions of people get a good nights sleep. Using malted wheat and barley in all recipes this exceptional late night drink has 14 additional vitamins and minerals that support the body during sleep.

Take a look a range of recipes and nutritional information for Horlicks here and see how it can benefit you!

Chamomile tea helps you to sleep

Level Wellness

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