10 Ways To Fix Your Sleep

10 Ways To Fix Your Sleep


If you find yourself watching Netflix into the small hours or your mind’s racing the minute your head hits the pillow, it’s probably time to scrub up on your sleep habits. SLMan asked a nutritionist and neuroscientist for their golden rules – here’s what you need to know for a better night’s sleep…

Put Down Your Devices

“You’ve heard it before, but at least an hour before bed, power down all your electronics. The circadian rhythm is the 24-hour body clock, which tells the body when to perform functions such as eating or sleeping. It is easily affected by light and temperature, so the body can think it’s daytime when you have a device shining in your face. Blue spectrum lights are emitted from electronic devices, which are particularly dangerous as they supress the release of melatonin. The night light function on your phone, while better than nothing, does not stop this suppression from happening.” – Winder Ton, nutritionist at Anatome


Know It’s In Your Genes

“Whether you’re a night owl or morning person is genetically determined. Around 30% of the population are considered morning types, 30% are evening types, and the rest of us sit in the middle or are a combination of the two. Try to stick to your natural body clock as much as possible – studies have shown your body struggles when you go outside a 30-minute window of what feels natural. For example, if you struggle to wake up in the morning, a 6am call for someone who’s alarm usually goes off at 7am could be near-on impossible. If you fight against your natural body clock on a regular basis, you could end up struggling with disease, sickness and ill health.” – Matthew Walker, neuroscientist & author of Why We Sleep


Keep A Journal

“It can be beneficial to keep a journal when it comes to improving sleep. In a notebook, write down three achievements from your day. By reminding yourself of the progress you’ve made toward your goals and being mindful of the things you’re accomplishing, it can improve your overall mood, which can have a positive impact on sleep. At the same time, writing a quick to-do list for the following day is also a good idea – this can help to physically clear your mind.” – Winder


Think About Gut Health

“Surprisingly, your gut health is important for good sleep. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for your body clock; it’s produced by the pineal gland in the centre of the brain. When the pineal gland isn’t functioning well, the auxiliary choice is your gut, emphasising the importance of taking care of the gut microbiome. There are a number of ways to support your gut, such as eating more fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and yoghurt) and fibre-rich foods, and taking a probiotic supplement. Supplementing with probiotics can support the immune system and intestinal health, elevate the mood, and reduce stress and anxiety.” – Winder


Eat An Early Dinner

“I always recommend having dinner at least an hour-and-a-half before sleep. If you are having a snack before bed, try to have this 40 minutes before you go to bed. And eat foods rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that’s converted into serotonin and then melatonin, the sleep hormone. Avoid any metabolism-boosting foods such as spices like cinnamon, any carb-heavy foods (pasta, bread, toast or crackers) and obviously any caffeinated drinks. If you are looking for a light snack, a handful of almonds or a portion of Greek yoghurt is a good choice.” – Winder


Hit The Hay Early

“Studies have suggested the 90-minute cycle of sleep that happens before midnight is one of the most powerful, as it’s when the body is replenished. This sleep is called NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and it’s responsible for solidifying new skills, memories and learning as well as repairing and maintaining tissues and organs, and stabilising our emotional health. If you are going to bed after midnight, chances are you’re losing the majority of your NREM sleep, compromising your health.” – Winder


Have A Sunrise Session

“If you are struggling with your sleep, try to exercise in the morning or at lunchtime. When you workout, you release myriad neurotransmitters that stimulate the body and brain. These neurotransmitters work on your body throughout the day, a bit like a wake-up call, and actually trigger sleep hormones in the evening. So if you’re skipping your workout, or doing it in the evening, you may not be producing adequate amounts of the hormones that will help you feel sleepy.” – Winder


Try a Holistic Solution

“While good nutrition, exercise and sleep hygiene are the way to go when it comes to sleep, supplements are worth exploring too. Studies have shown a magnesium supplement can help, while 5HTP (a precursor to melatonin) can decrease the time it takes for you to fall asleep. Topical use of botanicals like chamomile, frankincense and lavender can also help.” – Winder


Forget Napping

“If you don’t struggle with your sleep and can nap regularly, then naps are just fine. However, if you do struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, then try to avoid napping during the day – especially in the late afternoon – in order to build up a healthy sleepiness in the evening. To avoid feeling groggy after a nap, avoid snoozing for longer than 40 or 50 minutes.” – Matthew


Don’t Just Catch Up On Sleep

“Getting a few extra hours at the weekend only goes a little way to reversing chronic sleep debt. To repay your sleep debt completely, try to reintroduce a steady sleep routine and follow it for at least two weeks.” – Matthew

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