A good night's sleep can feel like a pipe dream with stress mounting, commitments overwhelming and family calling – but there is something within your grasp that could change the way you rest and recover. These 5 nutrients are non-negotiable in the fight for some shut-eye.
Magnesium has earned its reputation as the "relaxation mineral" for a reason. This essential nutrient plays a crucial role in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for calming and relaxing the body. Foods rich in magnesium, such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, can contribute to a more tranquil sleep environment.
Often referred to as the "sleep hormone," melatonin governs your sleep-wake cycle. While melatonin is produced naturally by the body, certain foods like cherries, tomatoes, and grapes contain melatonin and may support the body's own production of this sleep-regulating hormone.
Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin, making it an essential nutrient for regulating sleep patterns. Foods like poultry, fish, bananas, and fortified cereals are excellent sources of vitamin B6.
Calcium not only strengthens bones but also aids in muscle contraction and relaxation. This dual role makes calcium a valuable nutrient for promoting a calm and relaxed state before bedtime. Dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified plant-based milk are rich in calcium.
Zinc plays a role in the synthesis of melatonin, making it a valuable nutrient for a good night's sleep. Foods like meat, dairy, nuts, and legumes provide a good dose of zinc to support your sleep wellness.
Fuelling Your Sleep with Nutrient-Rich Choices
Ensuring your diet includes these sleep-supporting nutrients is a natural and holistic way to enhance your sleep quality. However, it's essential to maintain a balanced and varied diet to reap the full benefits of these nutrients.
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A good night's sleep is a cornerstone of overall health and wellbeing, and understanding the elements that contribute to quality sleep is key to waking up refreshed and revitalised – alongside these vital nutrients, let’s take a look at what’s involved in sleep (and it’s anything but simple!).
The Rhythmic Dance of REM Cycles
Sleep is not a monotonous journey but rather a series of cycles, and one of the most crucial phases is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This is the stage where dreams unfold, and the brain engages in essential functions for memory consolidation and emotional regulation. Ensuring you progress through the various sleep cycles, including REM, is vital for a restorative night's sleep.
Eating for Sleep: Timing Matters
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The connection between what you eat and the quality of your sleep is profound. Aim to finish your last substantial meal at least two to three hours before bedtime. This allows your body to focus on the process of digestion without interference from lying down. If hunger strikes closer to bedtime, opt for a light snack rich in sleep-promoting nutrients, such as a small serving of Greek yogurt or a handful of nuts.
Sleep-Inducing Nutrients: Your Allies for the Night
Certain nutrients play a significant role in promoting better sleep. Incorporate magnesium-rich foods, like leafy greens and nuts, into your diet. Choose complex carbohydrates, found in whole grains and legumes, which contribute to the production of serotonin—a precursor to melatonin, the sleep hormone. Balanced intake of these nutrients aids in establishing a foundation for quality sleep.
Hydration Hygiene: Finding the Right Balance
Staying hydrated is essential for overall health, but striking the right balance is crucial, especially close to bedtime. While dehydration can disrupt sleep, excessive fluid intake might lead to nocturnal awakenings. Aim to hydrate throughout the day, tapering off as bedtime approaches.
Creating a Sleep Sanctuary
Your sleep environment significantly influences the quality of your rest. Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by maintaining a comfortable temperature, minimising light exposure, and reducing noise. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to enhance your overall sleep experience.
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- Expert support to guide you through each week – from world-renowned chef Sarah Glover to yoga teachers, nutritionists and naturopaths.
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