You’ve heard it many times – sleep is so important. But stress, caffeine, poor sleep habits, and many other factors can affect your quality of sleep. What can we do to improve sleep naturally, from a Holistic Nutritionist’s standpoint? Today I want to share my top 5 tips for better sleep with you! Including: what foods to eat for a better night’s sleep and other natural ways to get a better night’s rest.
1. NOURISHING FOODS
Foods rich in magnesium – magnesium is needed in over 300 biochemical pathways in the body! It is one of 6 essential minerals that the body needs in larger quantities. Magnesium is essential for muscle contraction and relaxation, and helps the body and brain to relax. It activates neurotransmitters that are involved in calming the body! Magnesium deficiency is very common. Be sure to include lots of magnesium rich foods in your diet. These include: pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, leafy greens, whole grains, and bananas.
Foods rich in melatonin – melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland, and it is essential for sleep. Melatonin helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, and is even involved in regulating body temperature and gene expression. Melatonin supplements are often used to help with insomnia, but another way to increase this hormone is to each foods rich in melatonin – including pistachios, walnuts, cherries, goji berries, pineapple, banana, and oranges.
Foods rich in tryptophan – this essential amino acid helps to produce melatonin. Foods that are rich in tryptophan include spinach, brown rice, salmon almonds, and soy.
2. INVEST IN A HIGH QUALITY MATTRESS
About 2 years ago, we decided to upgrade our mattress. The one we had wasn’t very comfy, and Luc was not sleeping well at all. I dug deep into researching high quality mattresses to find one that suited my requirements. I was looking for something eco friendly and sustainable, with no off-gassing, and preferably made in Canada!
When I found Haven, I was really impressed for a few reasons. Firstly, Haven is are a small family owned business, and their products are made in Canada. In addition, their mattresses are made with materials such as bamboo, latex, and copper (for antimicrobial benefits). Most importantly, they are beyond comfortable (and chiropractor approved)!
We have had our Queen Lux Hybrid Pillowtop for almost 2 years, and just upgraded to a California King. What a treat! It’s so huge, and luxuriously comfy. It feels like sleeping in a hotel every night.
While I am a deep sleeper, my partner Luc is easily woken and has trouble sleeping. Therefore, the California King has been amazing for his sleep! You really don’t feel motion transfer (in other words, I don’t wake him up anymore with my tossing and turning)!
3. ESSENTIAL OILS
If you’ve explored my blog at all, you likely noticed that I love essential oils. I especially love all the calming essential oils, and I’ve really noticed a difference in my quality of sleep when I diffuse essential oils in the bedroom at night.
Two of the best sleep support essential oils are lavender and cedarwood. Add 5 drops of each to your diffuser, and turn it on before you go to bed for a relaxing aroma. Lavender is a nervine and calmative, which enhances relaxation and supports sleep.
4. SWAP SCREEN TIME FOR BOOKS
Blue light from our phones, computer and TV blocks melatonin production. The pineal gland secrets melatonin – a hormone that makes us feel sleepy and regulates our circadian rhythm. Looking at a screen before bed tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, and will likely keep you feeling awake and alert when you should be dozing off.
Instead of watching TV or scrolling on your phone before bed, try reading! Over the past year I’ve started reading books at bedtime instead of watching TV or scrolling the internet.There’s nothing more relaxing than the feeling of falling asleep while reading (though also frustrating when you’re reading a good book)! I’ve read a few really good books lately, see the list below for some of my favourite books to read this year:
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
- The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
- Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty
- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
When nothing else is cutting it, there are a few supplements that I like to have on hand for better sleep.
We already talked about what melatonin is and why it is important for a good night’s sleep. I like to have a bottle of melatonin on hand for nights when I just can’t fall asleep, or wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep. Try starting with a low dose such as 1 mg or 3 mg. Some individuals find that a higher dose (5 or 10 mg) works well for them.
Earlier, I shared some magnesium rich foods to include in your diet. But it’s always great to have a magnesium supplement as well. You can take magnesium glycinate in a powdered or capsule form for a calming, relaxing effect. Most capsules have a dose of 100 – 200 mg, and powders that you can mix into a drink are up to 300 mg. Another way to use magnesium is in a magnesium bath – read about why you should be taking magnesium baths here!
Lastly, ashwagandha is another well known supplement that is used for calming stress and anxiety. It is an adaptogen – meaning it helps to bring balance to the body. Ashwagandha supplements can be taken for reducing stress, improving mood, anxiety, and concentration. If you have a racing mind at night and experience lots of stress, ashwagandha would be a great supplement to try.
Remember to check out my guide: how to choose quality vitamins and supplements to ensure you’re getting the highest quality available.