Sleep not only makes you feel like a superhero, but it can also help you fight off colds. According to research, people who sleep six hours a night or less are four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus, compared to those who spend more than seven hours a night.
Elouise Bauskis, Nutritionist at Nutricentre.com, offers her tips for peaceful slumber:
- Melatonin is known as the body’s sleep hormone; therefore increasing your body’s melatonin levels can improve your sleep quality. It is is secreted by your pineal gland normally only in darkness. The ‘blue light’ component of artificial light switches off the body’s production of melatonin. Invest in some yellow lenses or yellow glasses that you can wear for a couple of hours (1-3 hours) before going to bed, which will allow your pineal gland to produce melatonin. They have been shown to improve sleep quality and mood by blocking blue light.
- Make sure you are sleeping in a darkened room, as light will disrupt melatonin production. Consider black-out curtains or blinds if your bedroom is at all light during the night
- If you have to get up to use the toilet at night, don't switch on any lights as this will flip your body into daytime mode which can prevent you being able to get off to sleep again.
- Avoid blue light a few hours before bed (for example a computer, other electrical devices such as mobile phones).
- Consider taking asphalia or a cherry extract, which contain naturally occurring melatonin.
- Establish and maintain a regular and relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading a book for a while and having a cup of soothing herbal tea.
- Have a bath before bedtime and add five drops of lavender essential oil which has a relaxing and mildly tranquilising effect.
- Dab some lavender essential oil on you temples, forehead or pillow before bedtime to help calm and relax you.
- Keep the bedroom just for sleep and sex.
- Establish the mood of the room, making it a calm and relaxing environment, this includes the colour of the walls, bed linen and décor, avoiding very bright, stimulating colours.
- Keep work out of the bedroom, as well as mobile phones, computers and TV.
- If it causes you anxiety to look at or hear your clock, then move it out of view.
Food and drinks
- Avoid caffeine 6-8 hours before going to bed.
- Avoid alcohol – most of us think that alcohol is a sedative, but the reality is it actually disrupts sleep and causes night time awakening.
- Have a snack before bed that is high in tryptophan - an amino acid that is used to make serotonin (which aside from making you happier, will also help you sleep better). Foods high in tryptophan include turkey, dairy products, bananas, oats and fish.
- Magnesium is ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ as it relaxes muscles and nerves. Unfortunately, many of us are deficient in this powerful mineral. Have a good quality magnesium supplement before bed, or consider magnesium oil which you spray onto the skin.
- Valerian, passionflower and chamomile are relaxing and sedating herbs, which can be used both throughout the day, into the evening and even during the night to help bring on sleep.
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