As you are probably already aware, my usual topic of discussion is generally related to the foods I eat that I have found have worked well on my journey into healing myself, however I realised I never really touched on a subject that in hindsight is probably a very important one when it comes to a holistic approach to healing. That is of course getting enough “Sleep” at night!. something that if you are lacking, could basically see your health and everything else you do throughout the day suffer. I’m aware that we are not always able to control the factors that interfere with sleep, (I.e. Have children/baby/snoring partner etc..), however there are steps you can take on board that will help encourage a good night’s sleep during the hours you do manage to squeeze in starting with these few steps that from past experience helped me overcome years of Insomnia!
6 Foods at the top of the elimination list
Sleep is one of the most important needs in life. Without sleep, we would not be able to physically or mentally function. I know for a fact having gone through almost 6 years suffering insomnia the toll it takes on your body. I was lerthargic all the time, moody, forgetful, lacked motivation, my skin was dull and dry, it literally affected pretty much every aspect of my life and I never want to have to go through it again!
I never really considered what I was eating and drinking throughout the day could be interfering with how I would wind down and sleep at night, I just fell into a vicious cycle of eating and drinking whatever I thought would provide me with the energy I felt I lacked without a second thought about how it would affect me later!
After a few weeks on an elimination diet, I started gaining an hour each night until eventually after a couple of months I was almost back to sleeping my usual 7-8 hours a night compared to what I was getting which was only about an hour a night! Here is a list of some of the things I ended up eliminating from my diet after speaking with a specialist regarding insomnia and I have to say the results were just amazing!
- Caffeine – The stimulatory effects of caffeine varies from person to person, for some people, caffeine can stay in the bloodstream for hours after consumption. It is generally recommended to abstain from caffeine in the afternoon and evening, limiting caffeine and coffee to 1 cup a day and and waiting till after 9.30am before drinking your first cup for the day! Read more about why this is HERE!
- Refined Sugar and complex carbohydrates should be avoided as they can quickly elevate blood sugar levels..
- Excessively fatty foods such as fried foods and potato chips as they can cause heartburn whilst trying to sleep.
- Reduce fluid intake from 8pm onwards to avoid having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Alcohol – While alcohol can help you fall asleep (not recommended), it prevents you from getting the REM sleep that you need to feel refreshed.
- Soy – Studies have found that Fermented soy products have some of the highest amounts of tyramine – meaning soy sauce, tofu, miso, and even teriyaki sauce should be avoided hours before bed time!
6 Foods at the top of my inclusion list
Bananas – Bananas are naturally high in magnesium and potassium making them the ideal muscle and nerve relaxant. The vitamin B6 found in the fruit also converts tryptophan to serotonin thus increasing relaxation even more!
Walnuts & Almonds – Walnuts and Almond are another great source of tryptophan and magnesium (natural sleep enhancers). Additionally, A study conducted by the University of Texas found that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, which may also help you fall asleep faster.
Lettuce – Eating salad can also help you sleep better at night as the lectucarium in lettuce has sedative properties.
Oatmeal – The grains in oatmeal are particularly high in melatonin which is know to promote relaxation and helps with falling asleep faster. I prefer to go with a gluten free range such as Bobs Red Mill.
Herbal tea – Chamomile and lemon balm are 2 great choices when it comes to choosing a tea that will assist with getting a good nights sleep. Both have sedative effects and have the ability to relieve insomnia in some people. If you’ve been having sleepless or restless nights, a nice mug of chamomile tea at bedtime may be just what you need to sleep soundly through the night. Chamomile tea has also been know to ease anxiety and depression as well!
Non GMO Jasmine Rice – According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate jasmine rice for dinner fell asleep faster compared to other types of rice.
This is mainly because jasmine rice has a high glycemic index, meaning the body digests it at a slow speed, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream. It also boosts the production of tryptophan and serotonin in the blood, thus encouraging sleep. So, eat jasmine rice to significantly cut the time it takes you to fall asleep.
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Ways to help switch of and Unwind from your day
Photograph by: Margit Selg
Depending on how hectic your day might have been, it’s important that you know how to switch of and unwind. In todays day and age, we seem to live in a world filled with information overload, social media distractions, reality television shows, deadlines, endless to do lists etc… that can often leave you feeling overwhelmed and inundated which in turn sometimes leads to a cognitive overload and an on-the-go lifestyle. While this ever-connected world has its advantages, what’s often missing is the importance of carving out time at the end of the day to just let it all go.
Not long ago, we lived our lives according to the sun. We adapted to the change of the seasons and relied on our finely tuned senses to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature. We honored the primal and cyclical nature of our bodies which was to awaken with the sun, perform daily activities until dusk, settle in for the night, sleep, and once again awaken with the sun. Contrast this to today where we are no longer limited by the hours of the sun. Long work hours, variable sleep cycles, daily sensory overload, and high stress permeate our daily lives, completely disassociating us from our natural rhythms.
Here are a few simple steps you could try that may help you to switch of and unwind from your day!
- Nature provides the perfect venue to switch off, unplug and “simply be”, because it prevents you from being plugged into the artificial environment, composed of television, radio’s, mobile phones, laptops, etc., that surround most of us during each minute of our waking hours. Spending time in nature allows us to unplug from this artificial environment, which allows us to really live in the now, and enjoy the mystery and beauty that is life.
- Yoga – Yoga allows you to be still, peaceful and tranquil in a world consumed with chaos. Yoga’s deep breathing and meditation practices help foster an inner shift in whatever it is you may be going through. Yoga also helps relieve stress, unclutter the mind, and helps you remained focused.
- Bath – I love running a hot bath, it’s such a simple way to relax and unwind. Place a few drops of pure essential lavender oil in with some magnesium bath salts and get ready to melt away your day. Light a few candles, play some day spa music in the background and it instantly feels like your in a day spa!
- Diary/Journal – If I find I have allot going on with multiple deadlines needing to be met, having it all bottled up in my head is just recipe for disaster, my body just ends up going into fight or flight mode and it forces my mind into cognitive overload! My brain simply just can’t cope with the amounts of information it’s trying to store resulting in tasks being forgotten, information being deleted important deadlines being missed, over I basically just become completely worn down! By writing down things you need to do in a to do list and having everything documented and organised in a diary/calendar or journal, takes such a huge load of your mind, its a must do for anyone with allot on their plate and I really cannot recommend doing this enough for the sake of your sanity and contributor to how you overall filter out un-necessary stress!
So there you have it, just a few of my trialled and tested recommendations on how to try and achieve a more peaceful mindset and a better nights sleep! I’m going to leave you now with one of my favourite breakfast smoothies that incorporates some of the foods that are in the Inclusion list!
Banana, Almond & Oat breakfast smoothie
2 medium chopped and peeled frozen bananas
1/3 cup gluten free rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbs almond butter
1 scoop raw vegan vanilla protein powder
1 tbs rice malt syrup or 1 medal date
1 tsp white chia seeds
Method: In a food processor, blend all ingredients for a minute until smooth. Pour into serving glass and enjoy!