Integrative Nutrition Blog

Here’s How to Catch More Zzz’s…

March 23, 2016

Image via Shutterstock

You may still be feeling the effects of the recent time change—or perhaps you always have trouble sleeping. According to Sleep Education, 30 to 35 percent of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, and 10 percent have chronic issues (meaning a lack of sleep at least three times a week for at least three months). 

Here are some actions you can take to encourage a good night’s rest:

Inhale relaxing scents.
Professor Paul Gringras, MD, sleep specialist in the United Kingdom, suggests smelling lavender and bergamot (the Earl Grey tea flavor) before bed to promote sleep. Put a few drops of these essential oils on cotton wool, and place the wool in a glass that can be kept in the corner of the bedroom, he says.

Eat melatonin-boosting foods.
Snacking on tropical fruits at night can increase your levels of the natural sleep hormone melatonin. Think: Pineapples, bananas and oranges, Gringras says. Montmorency cherries are also a good choice.

Turn off electronics before bed.
Checking your email before bed or falling asleep with the TV on can disrupt your sleep, so wind down with a calming activity such as meditating or reading instead. According to the National Sleep Foundation, studies show that even small electronic devices such as smartphones create light that promotes wakefulness. Children who use electronic devices to relax at night tend to have later weekday bedtimes and get fewer hours of sleep per week.  

Avoid big meals at night.
Eating big or spicy meals before bed can create indigestion that disrupts sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding large meals two to three hours before bedtime. If you’re hungry, eat a light snack instead.

Replace your old mattress.
Good mattresses generally last about 10 years, so consider replacing yours if it’s causing you discomfort. Not only is your old mattress filled with dead skin, dust mites and oil (yuck!) but it may also be hurting your back and joints, Gringras says.

Exercise regularly.
Working out during the day can help you wind down at night, but just make sure you don’t hit the gym too late in the evening because this can have the opposite effect. In general, morning workouts are best for a good night’s sleep.

Cut the caffeine and alcohol.
Your love for coffee may be interfering with your need for sleep. If you’re a caffeine drinker, reserve it for earlier in the day (preferably morning), so your body has time to calm down before bed. Alcohol can also interfere with quality sleep interfering with your body’s natural rhythms and ability to sleep through the night.

According to Integrative Nutrition founder Joshua Rosenthal, insomnia has reached epidemic proportions as a result of the speed and frenetic energy of the digital age. As Health Coaches, our students learn to support their clients find ways to relax, reconnect, and get better sleep for improved health.

Do you struggle with insomnia? What’s worked for you? Share with us in the comments section below!

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