Sleep advice from Rosie Weston, Nutritional Therapist and College of Naturopathic Medicine Graduate.
Q) I get off to sleep quickly but often wake in the small hours and struggle to get back off until it’s nearly it’s nearly time to get up! What can I do?
A) What you do in the few hours before bedtime can negatively or positively affect your sleep cycle. Alcohol, caffeine, temperature, electronics, pollution and noise are all known sleep disruptors.
It’s best to avoid caffeine after 2pm and save alcohol for the weekends. Electronic devices emit blue light, which affects melatonin production (our sleep- regulating hormone). Try not to use these the few hours before bed or wear blue light-blocking glasses.
Magnesium is required in melatonin production, so increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods such as organic almonds, leafy green veg and white beans or take a good quality supplement that includes magnesium malate or bisglycinate before bed; 300mg is the RDA but individual requirements need a nutritional therapist’s advice.
Tryptophan-rich foods including bananas, turkey, nuts, seeds and dairy also support serotonin production, a hormone very much involved in the sleep-wake cycle so aim to eat these in your evening meals. If you continue to have broken or disturbed sleep, seek the services of a nutritional therapist.
Q As I get older I seem to have less and less energy. What tips have you got for improving this situation?
A) Blood sugar imbalance is a major reason for this. When we eat the wrong balance of foods our blood sugar levels can quickly spike and this often leaves us with low energy, feeling tired and craving sweet foods.
Instead of reaching for the sweet stuff, which only exacerbates the cycle, create balanced wholesome meals. Each meal should contain slow release carbs (vegetables, fermented legumes, whole grains), healthy fats that enrich your meal (extra virgin olive oil, avocado, tahini, nuts and seeds) and good quality protein sources (organic, grass-fed meats, or lentils, chickpeas and beans).
Aim for half the plate to be non-starchy veg. Not only will these help fill you up, but they give you your daily nutrient hit. Combining these foods balances blood sugar and sustains your energy all day. The right balance of vitamins, macronutrients and minerals is required for energy production.
And last but not least, remember to drink plenty of pure, filtered water with 2 litres being the optimal amount depending on your activity levels and the time of year. Feeling tired is one of the body’s cries for more water!