Guest post by Roxanne Brooks, RHN
Many moms find themselves short on sleep. We lose sleep with newborns and teething toddlers, some of us have littles who wake frequently through the night, but stress from work, relationships, improper diet and lifestyle choices can leave us in a serious sleep deficit.
Chronic lack of sleep can have negative emotional, physiological and physiological impacts including:
- day time fatigue
- inability to concentrate
- increased hunger and weight gain
- increased irritability/anger
- impaired performance/reaction time
When we aren’t getting enough good quality sleep our kids, relatives, friends won’t get the best of us.
5 tips for improving sleep
1. Avoid caffeine or stimulants 7 hours before bed
If you’re hoping to be in bed by 10 pm, do not consume caffeinated beverages or other stimulants past 3 pm. Stimulants take an average of seven hours to clear from our systems so if you are consuming coffee, tea or soda in the late afternoon or evening it may be harder for you to fall asleep.
2. Include foods that contain calcium, protein and magnesium with dinner
A lack of calcium has been linked to waking through the night. Protein is a required as a building block for our bodies to make tryptophan and melatonin, which help us feel sleepy and stay asleep through the night. Magnesium can be helpful in relaxing our bodies and minds. Here are some sleep friendly dinner examples
Dinner example: Wild, local salmon topped with lemon and pumpkin seeds, brown rice, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Dessert/Snack example: Organic, full fat, plain Greek yogurt, topped with pumpkin seeds, a few dried tart cherries and a drizzle of local, raw honey.
3. Remove electronics from the bedroom and create a space just for sleep
EMF’s (electromagnetic fields) as well as blue light given off by smart phones, TV’s and computers have been shown to disrupt sleep by blocking melatonin production in the pineal gland in our brains.
Ensure the bedroom is only used for sleep and sex. Working in bed can lead us to associate the bedroom with stressful feelings, rather than relaxed ones, and keep the temperature in your bedroom between 15.5 and 21 C.
4. Create a relaxing routine
Slowly transition away from the stressors of the day into sleep through relaxing activities such as taking a warm bath or shower, reading or having a cup of herbal tea. Do so about an hour before bed. Stress signals a release of the cortisol hormone, which is responsible for alertness, making it hard for us to relax and fall asleep, so avoid stressful activities such as work or dealing with emotional issues.
5. Mind dump/Journal
Each night, about 15 minutes before you fall asleep, write in a journal in any way that you like that will allow you to release your feelings or stress. Create to do lists for the following day and let go of the tasks running through your mind.
Take it one step further and practice gratitude by recording something you are grateful for that day, something that made you happy or something that you were amazed by.
Top 5 foods that improve sleep
1. Tart Cherries – Contain melatonin, which tells our body that we are preparing for sleep
2. Walnuts – Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, the “body clock” hormones that sets your sleep-wake cycles
3. Almonds – Rich in magnesium, a mineral needed for quality sleep. When the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it makes it harder to stay asleep.
4. Fish – Fish such as tuna, halibut, and salmon are high in vitamin B6, which your body needs to make melatonin and serotonin.
5. Dairy (good quality – full fat plain Greek yogurt, organic) – Calcium helps the brain use the tryptophan found in dairy to manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin. Additionally, calcium helps regulate muscle movements.