Did you know that during the dark winter months we're more likely suffer with insomnia, fatigue and low moods. In fact, research has shown that people who live in countries that are exposed to little daylight in the winter are more susceptible to insomnia, this is due to a lack of natural daylight can have a negative effect on circadian rhythms and even worsen sleep.
As well as affecting your mood a bad night’s sleep make you less productive and even cause you to crave unhealthy food. But it needn’t be this way, follow these simple tips to help you combat insomnia naturally.
1. Ditch the caffeine
If you’re having problems sleeping, you should avoid eating or drinking anything containing stimulants. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours so avoid tea and coffee from about 12 noon onwards and try herbal teas instead. Martina Della Vedova, nutritionist from Natures Plus, says: “Calming herbal teas such as chamomile, passionflower or valerian, or specific sleep blends can be helpful to drink before bedtime.”
2. Separate work and play
To make sure you get a good night's sleep, it’s crucial that your environment helps, not hinders your slumber. Shona Wilkinson, from Superfood UK, says:“Establish the mood of the room that you sleep in, making it a calm and relaxing environment. This includes the colour of the walls, bed linen and décor and avoiding very bright, stimulating colours. Make sure you keep work out of the bedroom, as well as distractions like mobile phones, computers and TVs.”
3. Nature’s tranquiliser
Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ and helps relax our muscles; it’s also needed for conversion of tryptophan to serotonin and melatonin, which helps you sleep. Martina says: “Make an effort to include plenty of magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as buckwheat, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, fish and seafood, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, and dried fruits such as dried apricots or figs. I’d also recommend taking a form of magnesium supplement to ensure you’re getting enough, such as KalmAssure Magnesium Powder (£24.50, naturesplus.co.uk) as it is a naturally chelated magnesium which is very easy to absorb.”
4. Clear your mind
One of the most common reasons we are kept up at night is feeling anxious or worrying about the next day. Nutritionist and weight-loss expert, Lily Soutter, says that you should try and clear your mind before bed: “At least an hour before bed, put together a ‘to do’ list. This can prevent worries or mulling over tasks for the next day whilst trying to sleep.”
5. Breathe in breathe out
Make an effort to relax before you get into bed. Your mind can also be put to rest with a few deep breaths of some calming essential oils, as Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, explains: “Consider using some aromatherapy oils, such as bergamot, lavender, roman chamomile and marjoram in a warm bath, just before bed. A few drops of aromatherapy oils on your pillow at bedtime, or used in a vaporiser, can have the same effect.”
•For more health advice see Yours Magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday