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How to beat sleepless nights

Geeta Sidhu-Robb

With the news that sleep deprivation can fuel loneliness as a result of overly-tired people becoming ‘social lepers’, we present a guide to the perfect night’s sleep. Contributor Geeta Sidhu-Robb – Professional Nutritionist and Holistic Health Expert and Founder of Nosh Detox.

The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, have found that sleep-deprived people feel lonelier and less inclined to engage with others, avoiding close contact in much the same way as people with social anxiety. The study also showed tired people can pass on their feelings of social isolation to others, almost as if loneliness itself is contagious.

From the things we eat and drink, to the time in which we do it, there are a number of things we can do to ensure we achieve the minimum requirement of 7 hours sleep every night, thus improving our social state of mind and reducing loneliness. Below are some top tips on achieving the perfect night sleep.

What to eat

  • Bananas
    Not only are Bananas good for preventing those god awful muscle cramps in the night thanks to their high magnesium content which helps to relax the muscles, they also contain serotonin and melatonin which are proven to encourage sleep and control your wake cycles.  Try to get into the routine of a banana a day, at around 8pm.
  • Turkey
    If you are struggling for quality of sleep, try to incorporate turkey into your meal plans. Turkey contains an amino acid called tryptophan which helps the body to make important chemicals called melatonin, which in turn tells your brain that it’s time to go to sleep. Turkey will encourage a restful sleep.
  • Almonds & Oats
    Oats are vitamin rich and are replete with minerals and amino acids. They also assist the body in producing melatonin, which as mentioned before, lead your body to a state of relaxation and rest. Almonds tick the tryptophan box once again, and they also deliver a hearty dose of healthy fats and magnesium. What’s not to love? Oats aren’t the easiest to squeeze into a dinner, so instead go for oatmeal cookies or bars to enjoy with a cup of tea when you’re relaxing and winding down after a meal.
  • Honey
    The natural sugar found in honey raises our insulin levels slightly and allows the tryptophan to enter our brains easier. A spoonful of honey before bed, or in your green tea, will help you sleep.
  • Kiwi
    Packed with vitamin C, E, folate and serotonin, kiwis are great for promoting a good night’s sleep. One study found that four weeks of eating kiwi two times a day improved the sleep onset, duration, and efficiency of adults with sleep disturbances.

When to eat
You should be looking to eat your dinner at least 3 hours before your head hits the pillow, to allow for the digestive system to follow process your final meal of the day. If you are going to bed for 11pm, you should aim to have dinner wrapped up by 8. It’s important to allow your mind and body to relax and wind down in this window of time.

What to drink

  • Cherry Juice
    Cherry juice is a natural source of melatonin, which will help to regulate the sleep cycle and has sleep-enhancing benefits.
  • Warm Lemon Water
    Drinking warm lemon water before bed can provide many health benefits and can help to detox the body overnight. It will help naturally balance the body’s vitamins, nutrients and minerals to replenish what was used during the day.

Additionally it can also help to stabalise hormones which may lead to you noticing that you wake up the following morning feeling refreshed and energised.

Lastly it helps to repair muscles and joints whilst helping the body find a complete state of relaxation for a good night’s sleep

What to avoid

  • Cheese
    An old wives tale will have you believe that cheese is the cause of bad dreams. Whilst this is up for debate, what can be said with more certainty is that cheese before bed can lead to indigestion and restlessness.
  • Chocolate
    Chocolate is a natural stimulant and that will keep you tossing and turning for hours as it charges up your nervous system.
  • Coffee
    Similarly, coffee is something you should be drinking to wake you up, not settle you down.
  • Alcohol
    Is there ever a healthy time to drink alcohol? No. But there is certainly a time you should particularly avoid it and unfortunately that is the time most choose to drink it. Whilst you may feel like you’re ready to sleep for hours after a pint of beer, alcohol actually reduces your rapid eye movement (REM). The more you drink before bed, the more pronounced these effects are – meaning you are unable to stay in a deep sleep for long enough. Alcohol will cause a night full of disturbances, so it is all about weighing up your priorities.

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