How To Get a Good Night's Sleep, From the Experts
Everyone knows they should be getting more sleep; for optimal health we need sleep as much as we need good food and water. Getting those recommended 8 hours a night can help everything from stress levels to stopping cold and flu symptoms in their tracks. Unfortunately, in many cases it’s easier said than done! Stresses at work, technology addiction (you’re not the only one who looks at their mobile phone right before bed) and poor diet choices, can all affect those precious snoozing hours and lead to a tired, downcast day.
However, there is hope! Small changes to your lifestyle can be extremely beneficial and help get you off to the land of nod in no time. We’ve recruited three experts in their fields to give us their top tips on how to get the best night's sleep:
Will Williams, meditation teacher
Will Williams is an independent Vedic meditation teacher based in the UK. He believes the key to a good night sleep lies in meditation: "Many of us are sleep deprived due to the hectic nature of modern life - things such as too much caffeine, fast-paced working environments and too many screens overstimulate our nervous systems and leave us feeling frazzled.
The result is often disturbed sleep as our bodies are unable to adequately switch off and transition into sleep mode. Meditation is a powerful, natural antidote; it's able to break this pattern by working deep at the level of the nervous system, clearing out our daily stresses, improving our sleep quality and lengthening our sleep cycles so that we feel truly restored and rejuvenated”. As a previous chronic insomniac himself, Will knows all too well the frustration of not getting a good nights sleep, and has two easy to follow tips (if Vedic meditation isn't your thing!):
- "Every time we look at a screen, our nervous system is stimulated. Give your body a break by powering down a few hours before bed so that it can start winding down naturally. The liver detoxes the body during the hours of 10pm - 2am, so going to bed earlier will have a huge impact on your wellbeing.
- An easily digestible light meal three hours before bed will mean that your digestive system isn't going to be over-working itself overnight and waking you up. Freshly-made soups or organic vegetables cooked with spices and grains such as quinoa and fonio are ideal".
Rose Glover, Nutritional Therapist
As well as eating earlier, it’s also important to consider what’s going into your meals. We all know that the food we eat can affect bodily functions and even emotions, and sleep is no exception! Nutritional Therapist Rose Glover advises getting enough good quality protein at dinner time, such as beans, lentils, eggs, turkey and fish: “These foods are rich in an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps manufacture the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Also, carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain, so ensure you get some whole-grains in too!". She also recommends some further areas to look into:
- "Trying to include foods that are high in vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin, such as fish, bananas, pistachios, raw garlic and chickpeas.
- Magnesium deficiency is common, and studies show that not getting enough of this mineral may make it harder to stay asleep. Try to eat plenty of greens, nuts and seeds, which are rich in magnesium. Chocolate is also a great source of magnesium, so get that raw cacao in too!
- Ensure you are getting enough calcium in your diet, as being calcium deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep. Just another excuse to eat those leafy greens (moringa is a great place to start!).
- If repetitive or anxious thoughts are keeping you up at night, slowly reduce your consumption of caffeinated beverages, which can over-stimulate the nervous system. Instead, try sipping on camomile tea which may help calm your nerves as it contains certain compounds that actually bind to the same brain receptors as anti-anxiety drugs such as valium. The effects of drinking camomile can actually accumulate over several days after consumption, so make this your brew of choice on a daily basis".
Nicola Elliot, Aromatherapist & Entrepreneur
Founder of fragrance and wellness brand Neom, Nicola Elliot, believes nothing affects how you feel as much as sleep (or lack of it), and a great day starts 8 hours before with a good nights sleep!
Number one on her list is a routine: "A routine is key. I banish electricals after 9, light a Neom tranquillity candle in my bedroom (filling the air with scent) and have a warm bath filled with tranquillity oil. Read a book for 20 mins, take 2 magnesium capsules. Routine, routine, routine... Which makes it one of my favourite parts of the day!".
Our Sleep Well Summary
So paying attention to your diet, sticking to a sleep schedule, boosting your body with all the right nutrients and cutting out stimulants are all crucial to getting a good night's sleep. We have plenty of healthy recipe ideas to help you with the first. For those who need to wind down the mind, meditation could be the way forward... and for all of us, there's no harm in going to bed much, much earlier!
About Rose Glover
Rose is a nutritional therapist who is passionate about showing people how to overcome their health concerns through specialised nutrition and good food, you can find more about what inspires her on her Feel Good Triber profile, or visit her website roseglovernutrition.com.
About Will Williams
Will is an independent teacher of Vedic meditation and has helped thousands of individuals enjoy greater happiness and wellbeing through this simple technique, find out more on his website willwilliamsmeditation.co.uk.
About Nicola Elliott
The founder of natural fragrance and wellbeing brand Neom, read our full interview to find out more about Nicola and the brand.