Getting a good night’s sleep is so important. It promotes tissue repair, muscle recovery/repair, bone building, fat burning and optimises energy levels for the next day. Sounds great doesn’t it but the statistics show that too many people aren’t getting enough sleep.
There are so many reasons as to why you aren’t sleeping well. I usually start with working on the gut (of course!) but I also look at the vital nutrients you need in order to produce melatonin.
Firstly, you need protein. If you’re not getting enough protein, you can’t even start the process to making melatonin. Most people are getting enough but many aren’t. My top protein foods are lean red meat, chicken, fish, tofu/tempeh, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and eggs. Just a note on eggs. There is only 5g of protein in each egg. One tablespoon of tahini has the same amount of protein. So if you eat 2 eggs each day, that’s only 10g of protein towards your daily amount. An approximate guess for daily protein intake is 1g per kg of body weight for a sedentary person. For example, if you weigh 70kg, you need approx 70g of protein each day.
I don’t want to blow your mind with all the other nutrients you need to make melatonin. After all, you have enough to think about at this challenging time. I just want you to be aware that if you eat a wide range of foods and your absorption is good, then you’ll be getting enough of the right nutrients. You need to be getting enough Vitamin C and D, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium.
If you’re eating the protein foods I mentioned, you’re already getting many of the nutrients needed. Many people I see are low in magnesium and zinc so if you’re not eating enough, you need to be taking a supplement.
Some sleepy tips
- If worrying thoughts are bothering you, tell yourself, ‘I will think about this tomorrow, now is the time for sleep’. You could also write the thoughts down on a piece of paper or in a journal to think about in the morning.
- Use a breathing strategy to help you relax. Breathe in while you count to 4, hold for 2, then breathe out while you count to 4. When thoughts come into your head, just notice them and go back to the breathing.
- Avoid taking naps during the day. This ensures you are tired at bedtime.
- Get up and go to bed at the same time every day to establish a regular sleep cycle.
- Refrain from exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime. Exercising in the morning or afternoon is okay.
- Develop sleep rituals. For example, listen to relaxing music prior to bedtime, read something soothing for 15 minutes or have a cup of caffeine free tea such as chamomile.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for at least 4 – 6 hours before bed. These can affect your ability to both fall and/or remain asleep. They can also affect the quality of your sleep.
- Take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime. This may raise your body temperature. The subsequent drop in body temperature later leaves you sleepy.
- Use sunlight to set your biological clock. As soon as you get up in the morning, go outside and and face the morning sun for 10 seconds. Look away, then repeat the process another two times.
If you want to find out if you’re getting the right nutrients and/or need help with your sleep, book a consultation here.