Eat your way to a better night’s sleep

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By Andrea Burton - Nutritionist at Body Fabulous

For many people, this time of year is quite stressful and can lead to occasional sleeping issues; be it difficulty falling asleep or frequent or early waking. And as we all know lack of sleep can make you feel pretty terrible. It’s hard to concentrate, make decisions and cope with small setbacks that would otherwise be manageable and you reach for comfort food to give yourself a boost because you just feel too tired to cook from fresh. These habits keep you in a poor sleep-exhaustion cycle.

If you wake up during the night or very early it could be related to a drop in your blood sugars in the night, or other changes in your normal eating patterns and daily routines.

Eat to improve your sleep

  • Balance blood sugars - If you wake up due to blood sugar falling, often after drinking alcohol, it might help to ditch the simple carbohydrates (white bread, white pasta, potatoes, white rice) at your evening meal and replace them with complex carbohydrates (think sweet potato, wholemeal pasta). It may also help to eat a small protein and carbohydrate snack an hour before bed such as 10 almonds and 10 grapes to maintain consistent blood glucose and stop that dip that might wake you up.
  • Build up your hormones - Serotonin helps to us to get to sleep by producing melatonin, our sleep hormone. To make enough serotonin we need tryptophan rich foods such as turkey, eggs, pulses or bananas. Also get some daylight during the day with a walk outside if you can, to help reset your circadian rhythm.
  • Ensure adequate magnesium intake – Some studies have shown that taking a magnesium supplement can help reduce night time waking, early morning waking and improve how refreshed you feel in the morning. Magnesium is essential for muscle relaxation and can help you wind down and is depleted by alcohol. Include magnesium rich foods during the day like leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard, coriander; seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds; quinoa, cashew nuts and black beans. Lamberts Magnesium is available in our online shop http://www.mybodyfabulous.co.uk/shop-online/magasorb

 

Tips For Better Sleep

  • Avoid any stimulants such as caffeine from at least 6 hours before going to bed.
  • Limit refined sugars. Also avoid heavy meals late at night because you’ll be digesting as you sleep and you need to give your digestive system a rest.
  • Make sure your room is warm but not hot and keep your bedroom well ventilated. Keep lights as low as possible and making sure the room is as quiet and dark as you can make it. Close any gaps in the curtains, try blackout blinds or use an eye mask. This is because light supresses melatonin production, and if our circadian rhythms are knocked out it can affect sleep times and quality.
  • Try different relaxation techniques to find something that suits you – either deep breathing exercises, relaxation apps like Headspace, reading a book or journal writing.
  • Avoid blue screens, including smart phones and tablets, for two hours before bed to help stop the light disrupting your melatonin production. Even if you use f.lux on your PC or change the light settings on your Apple device, the light can still disrupt your sleep patterns.
  • Use aromatherapy oils such as lavender and chamomile in the room and in warm baths.

Have a fabulous festive time everyone and ‘see’ you all again in the New Year x

The Link Between Sleep and Weight Loss

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The debate about the best way to achieve a healthy weight always revolves around eating and movement. If you want to look better, the most common suggestion is “eat less and move more.” But it’s not that simple. Sometimes between living your life, working and exercising, you’re forgetting to sleep enough. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35% of people are sleep deprived. And when you consider that the statistic for obesity is nearly identical, it’s easy to connect the dots and discover that the connection is not a coincidence.

It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly. When you don't sleep enough, your cortisol levels rise. This is the stress hormone that is frequently associated with fat gain. Cortisol also activates reward centers in your brain that make you want food. At the same time, lack of sleep causes us to be short tempered, more irritable and far more likely to choose unhealthy snack options.

A recent study carried out by researchers from Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland looked at the associations between sleep, stress and success at sticking to a weight loss program. They found overwhelmingly that people who had less than six hours sleep per day were less likely to achieve weight loss than those who had between six and eight hours. The researchers also concurred that high stress levels also affected weight loss. When combined with poor sleep, stressed people were about half as likely to be successful at weight loss than their less stressed counterparts who got between six and eight hours of sleep.

Of course weight issues are not all the fault of poor sleep patterns. Your bulging waistline could equally be caused by any number of different factors including sneaky snacking, poor genetics, stress, night shifts, food addictions, sugary drinks, too much alcohol, a food intolerance or an imbalance in gut bacteria. However one thing is clear if you are getting less than 6 hours quality sleep every night then your body will not be in prime 'fat burning' mode. Try and get a good sleep routine to help you manage your weight for effectively and if you need help please arrange to come in to see me for a one to one sleep consultation amie@mybodyfabulous.co.uk