Are you doing all the right things to manage your weight and reduce sugar cravings, yet the weight seems to plateau or slowly creep up, cravings are there daily and your energy is all over the place?
Sleep could be the missing link. Good quality sleep (and enough of it) is essential not only to maintain healthy weight, but also to memory and focus, circadian rhythm regulation and top mental health.
Lack of sleep means that your body doesn’t get enough fuel to keep it going and you may notice cravings for quick energy, such as caffeine, sugars and simple carbs. In addition, lack of sleep can reduce insulin sensitivity in fat cells up to a whooping 30%, which means that the body is so much more likely to store energy as fat- hello afternoon snacks and biscuits.
Adults need at least 7h hours of sleep ever night, f you've been in 'sleep debt' or lacking energy- you certainly could benefit from 9h. If you have the best intentions to go to bed early, but still struggle to follow through or keep awake staring at the ceiling for a couple hours, sounds like you could benefit from a bedtime routine.
Here’s how to craft the perfect one for you.
1. Turn off blue screens at least 1h before bed
There’s no doubt that exposure to LED screens affect sleep quality and imbalance the circadian rhythm. Aim to switch of phones, tablets and TVs at least one hour before bed to ensure good quality zzz’s.
2. Stick to low-moderate physical activity in the evening
Although sustained exercise helps regulate circadian rhythm and supports healthy metabolism, exercise also is responsible for the release of stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol takes time to drop and late intense exercise may be the cause of insomnia.
If you have to do strenuous exercise in the evening, aim for at least 3h before bed. Otherwise, stick to restorative and yin types of yoga to reduce cortisol and prepare your body for sleep.
3. Have a ‘sleep sandwich’
It’s not what you think. Ditch the bread and simply cut the banana lengthways, spread almond butter and sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top. Have it 30 min before bed, latest.
Banana contains magnesium and potassium, which promote muscle relaxation. Almond butter and pumpkin seeds are both high in magnesium and tryptophan, precursor for melatonin- your sleep hormone.
4. Epsom salt bath with essential oils
Run a hot bath and add magnesium- rich Epsom salts to cultivate body and mind relaxation. Frankincense, lavender or roman chamomile essential oils will not only make the experience luxurious, but will also soothe the nervous system and get you ready to hit the day.
5. Choose a nighttime herbal tea
A hot tea before bed can work miracles in creating a nourishing habit, however pick wisely what herbs you use. Go for nighttime blends that include chamomile, Valerian, hops and lemon balm, especially if you’ve been running on caffeine most of the day. Go for Ayurvedic golden milk for a soothing and comforting end of the day.
6. Sweet dreams supplements
Head to the supplement cupboard to ensure you fall asleep easily and stay asleep through the night.
Magnesium is my favourite, as it supports relaxation the muscles and supports adrenals, in turn helping the mind relax. Research shows great success in supplementing with zinc to increase sleep quality.
7. A perfect evening meditation
There’s no doubt that a busy and active mind can play a huge role in being unable to fall asleep or get some quality deep sleep. Yoga Nidra is an excellent meditation type to help you unwind, soothe the nervous system and get into the deep whole body relaxation.
8. Have an early dinner
It’s not just what you eat before bed, but when you eat that matters for your sleep quality. Aim to have dinner at least 3h before bed and avoid heavy meals. Being overly full will keep you awake and uncomfortable.
Stick to light protein, such as eggs and fish, as well as avocados, quinoa and root vegetables. Avoid high amounts of proteins such as red meat and foods that are high in saturated fat, as it can take 2-4h for your body to process it.