Did you know that getting an extra hour of sleep can help your lose weight? Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep can also help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and lower your risk of diseases like diabetes, dementia and heart disease. Sounds easy right?
But the truth is, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep! The US Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in three adults doesn’t get enough sleep, and this is 10.7% higher among adults of color. Sleep deprivation, or consistently getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night, increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, dementia and more. A study performed by Harvard Medical School found that women getting less than 6 hours of sleep were 20-32% more likely to develop hypertension.
Sleep is the foundation to our overall health and happiness. It is during our nightly rest that our bodies engage in vital processes, such as repairing damaged tissues, strengthening the immune system, and rejuvenating our skin. A good night's sleep is linked to improved cognitive function, memory consolidation, and enhanced mood regulation.
While many opt for over-the-counter sleep aids like melatonin, it's important to understand the potential dangers of relying on sleep aids. Melatonin, a hormone produced by your body to regulate sleep-wake cycles, is often used as a quick fix for sleep issues. However, excessive or prolonged use of melatonin supplements can disrupt the body's natural production of this hormone, leading to dependency and diminishing effectiveness over time. It has also been linked to an increase in migraines, nausea and other unpleasant side effects. Instead, there are steps you can take to improve the quality and duration of your sleep.
In this blog post, we will guide you through effective strategies and lifestyle changes that promote deep sleep. From creating a sleep-friendly environment to incorporating sleep-promoting foods and supplements, we will uncover the secrets to unlocking the potential of your natural sleep cycle.
The Role of Foods and Drinks
What we consume throughout the day and particularly in the hours leading up to bedtime can significantly impact our ability to achieve quality sleep. Let's explore the foods and drinks that can promote a peaceful night's sleep, as well as those that should be avoided to prevent disruptions to our sleep cycle.
Here is a list of some of our favorite food and beverages that can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer:
- Cherries: These little ruby gems are a natural source of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Incorporating cherries or tart cherry juice into your evening routine may help facilitate a smooth transition into slumber.
- Bananas: Rich in potassium and magnesium, bananas can aid in muscle relaxation and calm the nervous system. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that gets converted into serotonin and melatonin, promoting a sense of relaxation and drowsiness.
- Herbal Teas: Sipping on soothing herbal teas like chamomile, lavender, or valerian root before bedtime can have a calming effect on the body and mind, promoting a more tranquil sleep.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are excellent sources of magnesium, which plays a role in promoting quality sleep. They also provide a healthy dose of protein and healthy fats that can contribute to a balanced diet.
If you’re having difficulty sleeping, here is a list of foods and beverages you should try limiting before bed:
- Caffeine: Found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and some sodas, caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with falling asleep and reduce overall sleep quality. You should avoid caffeine at least 4-6 hours before going to bed.
- Alcohol: While alcohol may initially make you feel drowsy, it can disrupt the later stages of sleep, leading to fragmented and less restorative sleep. Try limiting your alcohol intake and avoid drinking close to bedtime.
- Spicy and Heavy Foods: Consuming spicy or heavy meals too close to bedtime can cause indigestion, heartburn, and discomfort, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep. It's best to have dinner a few hours before bedtime and opt for lighter, easily digestible meals.
- Sugary and Processed Foods: Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, leading to energy fluctuations and difficulty in achieving deep and restful sleep.
- Excessive Fluid Intake: While hydration is important, drinking excessive amounts of fluids, especially close to bedtime, can disrupt sleep with frequent trips to the bathroom. Moderate your fluid intake in the evening to avoid having to get up multiple times a night.
By being mindful of what we consume, we can create an environment within our bodies that promotes consistent, restorative sleep. Incorporating sleep-promoting foods and avoiding sleep-disrupting substances will help optimize our chances of achieving a peaceful night of sleep.
Managing Stress for Restful Sleep
Stress has a profound impact on our ability to achieve quality sleep. With all of the stress our communities and families face on a daily basis, finding effective ways to reduce stress and promote relaxation is critical to improve the quality of your sleep. Here are some practices you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you unwind, relax your mind and prepare for a peaceful sleep:
- Practice Meditation and Deep Breathing: Engaging in meditation or deep breathing exercises before bedtime can help calm the mind and release tension. Find a quiet space, sit or lie down comfortably, and focus on your breath, allowing thoughts to pass without judgment. This practice promotes relaxation and prepares your mind for sleep. If you need an easy place to start, there are many free five-minute classes on youtube and spotify that you can listen to.
- Establish a Bedtime Routine: A consistent bedtime routine signals to your body that it's time to unwind and prepare for sleep. Incorporate activities that promote relaxation, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath or practicing gentle stretches. Consistency in your routine and the time that you go to bed each night helps regulate your body's internal clock and improve sleep quality.
- Limit Screen Time and/or Use Blue Light Glasses: The blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers can interfere with the production of melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep. Minimize screen time at least an hour before bedtime and consider wearing blue light-blocking glasses to protect your eyes and promote the natural release of melatonin.
- Create a Restful Sleep Environment: Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out any unwanted light and earplugs or a white noise machine to drown out disruptive sounds. If you need some noise, try listening to White Noise or Pink Noise sleep playlists. Also, if you’ve been sleeping on the same bed for a decade, it may be time to upgrade and invest in a comfortable mattress, pillows, and breathable bedding. Yes, those silk pillowcases are still a great option.
- Journaling: Write down any thoughts, worries, or tasks that may be occupying your mind. Journaling can help offload stress and provide a sense of closure before bedtime. This practice allows you to release thoughts onto paper and clear your mind.
- Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular movement, such as walking, yoga or slow weighted workouts can help reduce stress levels and promote better sleep. However, avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as it may increase alertness and make it harder to fall asleep.
By incorporating these stress-reducing techniques into your evening routine, you can create a more peaceful environment for relaxation and enhance the quality of your sleep. Prioritize self-care and allow yourself the time and space to unwind, ultimately preparing your mind and body for sleep.
Boosting Sleep Quality with Essential Nutrients
In addition to lifestyle changes and relaxation techniques, certain vitamins and minerals can play a significant role in supporting high-quality sleep. Here are some key nutrients that can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer:
- Magnesium: A powerhouse nutrient that supports vital functions within our bodies, including sleep, energy production and mood. There are several different types of magnesium available, but here are three of the most common forms:
- Magnesium Glycinate is a highly absorbable form of magnesium that promotes relaxation and reduces muscle tension. It is often recommended for individuals experiencing anxiety or restless legs syndrome.
- Magnesium Malate is a high-quality form of magnesium that supports energy production, reduces muscle pain, helps alleviate cramps and can support improved mood.
- Magnesium Citrate is the most common but lowest quality of all the magnesium. It is not as easily absorbed by our bodies, and it can have a gentle laxative effect - which is great if you’re experiencing constipation!
- L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and known for its calming effects. It promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety, and enhances sleep quality without causing daytime drowsiness. L-theanine can be consumed as a supplement or naturally occurring compound in tea.
- Lion's Mane is a medicinal, functional mushroom that can provide cognitive and sleep-enhancing benefits. It contains compounds that support brain health and may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Ceylon cinnamon is an adaptogenic herb associated with numerous health benefits and has been shown to help balance blood sugar, which promotes stable energy levels throughout the night in order to minimize sleep disturbances.
- Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support gut health, influencing the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin, which help regulate sleep patterns. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome with probiotics indirectly contributes to better sleep.
- Adequate levels of Vitamin D are crucial for overall health, including sleep regulation. Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to sleep disturbances, insomnia and decreased sleep quality. It's estimated that 76-90% of melanated people are Vitamin D deficient.
Incorporating these sleep-supporting nutrients into your diet or considering targeted supplementation can provide a natural and holistic approach to optimizing sleep. However, it's crucial to remember that a balanced and nutritious diet, along with a healthy lifestyle and proper sleep hygiene, forms the foundation for achieving restful sleep. It's important to note that while these nutrients have shown potential in promoting sleep quality, individual responses may vary and it is always a great idea to consult with your healthcare professional if you continue to experience sleep challenges or are taking medications.
The Mela Difference
At Mela Vitamins, we understand the importance of quality sleep and its impact on daily life. That's why our Daily Essentials supplement is carefully formulated to provide key nutrients that support restful sleep and improved energy levels throughout the day. With a unique blend of Magnesium Malate, Lion's Mane, Ceylon Cinnamon, Probiotics, Vitamin D and more, our Daily Essentials can help you optimize your health and well being, including achieving quality sleep.
By implementing lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques, and incorporating sleep-supporting nutrients into your diet, you can enhance sleep quality and wake up feeling refreshed and energized. It’s important to try out different methods to see what works best for you, and to find a routine that you can consistently commit to. Getting that extra hour or two of sleep will be well worth it!
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). Sleep and Health. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sleep/
American Psychological Association. (2013, February 4). Stress and Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-deprivation/health-effects
Peuhkuri, K., Sihvola, N., & Korpela, R. (2012). Diet promotes sleep duration and quality. Nutrients, 4(12), 1397-1412. doi: 10.3390/nu4101397. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4883191/
Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Are You Getting Enough Sleep? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/are-you-getting-enough-sleep