Is lack of sleep the new health and wellness pandemic?
Five natural remedies for peaceful slumbers Suzie Sawyer, Clinical nutritionist for www.feelaliveuk.com
Up to one third of adults suffers from sleep issues at some point in their lives. However, the prevalence of insomnia has increased sharply during the pandemic.
A lack of sleep is associated with higher body mass index (BMI), partly down to a rise in the hunger hormone, ghrelin, a surge in inflammatory markers, and increased salt retention, which all have a detrimental effect on overall health and wellbeing.
Sleep, or the lack of it, affects all body systems and there’s also worrying research to suggest that poor sleep is a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline. There’s no doubt about it, poor sleep needs to be tackled.
Read of to find out Suzie Sawyers five great tips to help send your body to the ‘land of nod’!
# 1. Calming magnesium: Often referred to as ‘nature’s natural tranquiliser,’ magnesium has a calming effect on the body down to its work as a muscle relaxant. Poor sleep, with long periods of tossing and turning during the night is often associated with magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is also frequently lacking in people who are highly stressed or that turn to alcohol as a prop; both exacerbate magnesium loss.
Another risk factor for deficiency is that magnesium is not found in the typical highly refined, western diet. Rather, magnesium is rich in whole food sources such as beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. Indeed, spinach is your friend in this respect. It’s important to ensure the diet is plentiful in these foods, to help keep the body calm and balanced and able to relax and rest.
Try cooking baby spinach with rice to bring out the colour in this vegetarian side dish - perfect as part of a Greek inspired lunch and delicious served with grilled salmon or chicken https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/spinach-rice
Alternatively, boost your magnesium intake with a daily dose of Nature’s Way Magnesium Complex Citrate Blend capsules.
# 2. Plug all nutrient gaps: Nothing works in isolation within the body and all body systems are interlinked. The body clearly needs a vast array of nutrients, often working as co factors in enzyme reactions, and to produce hormones, such as the sleep hormone melatonin and other neurotransmitters. Vitamins B6, C, B12, folate, zinc and magnesium are great examples of this and are micronutrients known to be deficient in the UK diet. Part of the problem is down to low intake of fruits and vegetables with the government’s National Diet and Nutrition Surveys (NDNS) showing both adults and children failing to meet the recommended five a day. This impacts on micronutrient deficiencies and, therefore, sleep.
The body’s needs must be met otherwise deficiency symptoms can manifest themselves in a myriad of unpleasant ways. Taking a high potency vitamin and mineral supplement daily, such as the Alive! Ultra Wholefood Plus range, which also contains a unique blend of 26 fruits and vegetables, will provide what the body needs and is frequently lacking.
#3. Restful L-Theanine: L-Theanine, works on the calming neurotransmitter, GABA, which induces harmony and wellbeing. The best news, however, is that L-theanine is naturally found in green tea which also induces feelings of calm.
Highly caffeinated drinks such as coffee are known stimulants and can cause sleep issues for many people, especially if consumed close to bedtime. Green tea, however, is rich in L-theanine, so any adverse effects of its natural caffeine content are outweighed. If sleep is an issue, checking caffeine intake throughout the day is a must and swapping to green tea is instead of consuming coffee or energy drinks is a must. Think calm, think theanine!
#4. Adaptogenic herbs: Adaptogens, as the name suggests, bend and flex to meet the body’s needs. Herbal adaptogens primarily relieve stress by working on the adrenal glands from where the body releases stress hormones. And, as we know, when the adrenal glands are on high alert, the whole body will also be feeling the strain, anxiety will be a side effect, and poor sleep the result.
The adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha, has been long studied for its benefits on sleep, with a recent trial further confirming its effectiveness. If stress and anxiety are effectively managed because stress hormone levels are balanced, then many sleep issues can be resolved. Another herb that has long been studied for its beneficial effects on stress, and therefore sleep, is Rhodiola rosea. Taken in supplement form, this adaptogenic herb can help restore balance, manage the stress response, and help prevent burnout. Thereafter, normal sleep patterns can be restored. Try Nature’s Way Premium Extract Ashwagandha capsules or Vitano Rhodiola tablets.
# 5. Nature’s natural remedies: Calling on the powers of nature when something so fundamental to life such as sleep is common sense. Passionflower is part of nature’s treasure chest for helping to sort sleep and anxiety troubles.
A natural remedy that works on GABA, Passionflower helps promote calm, reduce anxiety and aid restful sleep. Plus, passionflower works in partnership with the herb valerian. With similar calming effects on the body, passionflower helps reduce anxiety and valerian helps the body to stay asleep. Importantly, neither causes drowsiness the next day. Both can be found in a unique traditional herbal remedy (THR), Bonuit Sleep Aid, traditionally used for sleep disturbance.
Suzie’s five quick fixes for peaceful sleep
1.Eat smart. What you eat can impact how you sleep. To make your diet sleep-friendly try a fibre-filled breakfast at the same time every day, a filling lunch and for dinner try get a good balance between carbs and protein. Leave at least three hours after eating dinner before going to bed. The body is super-busy detoxifying and repairing during the night and needs to have had time to digest food beforehand. Try this Chinese Pork and vegetable stir-fry recipe, which is not just tasty, but super healthy! https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chilli_hoisin_pork_and_69239
2. Keep it clean. Watch sugar and caffeine intake throughout the whole day. The more you have, the more likely sleep will be disrupted.
3. The power of five. Never underestimate the power of deep breathing. Five seconds breathing in, five seconds breathing out for five minutes and you’ll feel the body relax.
4. Stay low. A diet rich in low to medium foods on the glycaemic index including whole grains, nuts, seeds, bean, legumes and starchy vegetables will balance the body and help it to rest.
5. Adopt routine. The body loves routine, so keeping regular bed and waking times is essential for maintaining a healthy sleep pattern. Generally, it loves seven to nine hours sleep per night, therefore you need to be in bed and settled to have any chance of achieving this.