Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying sleep.
We all experience bouts of insomnia from time to time, but it's when it becomes chronic that it can significantly impact your quality of life.
Sleep issues are one of the top health complaints among adults, affecting approximately one-third of the adult population (1).
Sleep is an essential factor health and when we neglect it, we will feel it. Lack of sleep often results in reaching for multiple cups of coffee to feel awake as well as energy crashes, cravings, poor focus, and low mood.
But lack of sleep doesn't just make you feel crummy the day after, it can impact your health and increase the risk for medical problems such as inflammation, depression, anxiety, immune dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity (2). Research has shown that persistent insomnia is associated with an increased risk for all-cause mortality (3).
Have we convinced you that sleep is important yet?
Fortunately sleep is very much influenced by the type of lifestyle that we lead, which means that we can improve our sleep by tweaking our daily habits.
So often we will do anything to push through the feelings of fatigue by stimulating ourselves with sugar, coffee, or alcohol but we often neglect what actually matters: rest!
Getting good sleep should not be seen as a luxury nor a waste of time, it's a necessity. "Sleep when you're dead" is not helpful or healthy advice and it's time that we prioritized our Zzzz's.
Besides, when we are well rested we not only feel better ourselves, but everyone else benefits around us too!
Natural solutions to insomnia
Move your body
Yes you know the many benefits of exercise by now if you've been an avid reader of Vitasave, but did you know that movement can actually improve sleep?
Many of us lead sedentary lifestyles that can actually make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. If we are not expelling physical energy during our day we may experience feelings of being "wired" at night.
Exercise has been deemed effective at decreasing sleep complaints and as a natural treatment for chronic insomnia (4).
A study showed that just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 times per week was effective at improving sleep in older women with insomnia (5).
Research has also found that both very low and very high levels of physical activity have been associated with poorer sleep quality (6). So you don't want to over do it just as much as not exercising at all!
The last thing to note is that exercise timing may also impact sleep.
Morning exercise may be the most beneficial time in order to enhance quality of sleep (7).
It is recommended to avoid exercise 2 hours before bed in order to let the brain and body wind down, decrease the body's core temperature, and shift to a more relaxed state required for sleep.
Other studies have found that the timing doesn't matter much in regards to sleep quality (8). The best way to find out what works best for you is to test it out. Remember, the most beneficial form of movement is the one that you can commit to!
Eat for sleep
Believe it or not, the food you eat can also influence how you sleep.
The Mediterranean style of diet in particular has been linked to better sleep and less insomnia symptoms (9). This type of diet has been associated with improved blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, cholesterol balance, and improved brain function and mood, which may explain the benefits that it can offer for sleep (10). Due to the significant amounts of plants included in the Mediterranean diet this factor may also support levels of serotonin and melatonin, which are required for sleep (11).
Specific foods that may be beneficial to include in the evening to help you sleep include:
Kiwi fruit : its sleep promoting affects are largely associated with its antioxidant properties and its ability to increase serotonin, a sleep hormone that is related to REM sleep. Low levels of serotonin can contribute to insomnia.
Turkey: we are all familiar with the sedating effects of turkey at Thanksgiving! This is largely due to the tryptophan found in turkey, an amino acid that increases the production of melatonin, our primary sleep hormone (12).
Cherries: represent a naturally high source of melatonin, our sleep inducing hormone. Daily intake of cherries has been linked to improved sleep duration (13).
Almonds: a good source of melatonin and magnesium, two key nutrients that support sleeping patterns and that can help your muscles relax. Almonds also contain calcium, which helps the brain convert tryptophan into sleep-inducing melatonin.
Raw honey: it provides easy-to-access fuel for your brain throughout the night, while restocking your liver's glycogen stores to help you stay asleep.
Sweet potato: provides gentle and easy to digest carbohydrates and the muscle-relaxing mineral, potassium. Low carbohydrate intake has been associated with difficulty maintaining sleep (15).
On the other hand, we suggest avoiding stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, sugar, or energy drinks, especially later in the day, as they can increase the risk for insomnia. Lack of fiber and high saturated fat and sugar intake have also been associated with less restorative sleep (16).
Lastly, research has indicated that skipping breakfast and eating irregularly were strongly associated with poor sleep quality, thus it's important to establish well balanced meals throughout your day.
End your day right
How you start your day tomorrow begins with how you end it today! Not only does your day to day lifestyle impact your sleep at night but what you do right before bed will also significantly impact the quality of your sleep.
Too often we end up scrolling social media, bingeing Netflix, or watching the news before bed which will only disrupt our natural circadian rhythm.
The blue light that is emitted from electronics actually inhibits melatonin production which means you might feel a second wind of energy late at night when you should be winding down instead. This can make it much more challenging to fall asleep at a reasonable hour and to feel well rested upon waking (17)(18).
What's more, these sorts of stimulating activities can activate the sympathetic state in the body, stirring up our stress hormones instead of our sleep hormones.
The hour or two before you go to bed are extremely influential on your overall quality of sleep.
We recommend avoiding electronics at least one hour before bed in order to minimize the effects that light exposure can have on the brain.
If you absolutely must use electronics we suggest activating the yellow or red light (also known as bedtime mode) on your devices to create less of an impact on your sleep hormones.
Alternative bedtime activities that do not involve electronic devices and that can help to support a good night's sleep include watching the sunset, stargazing, meditation, journaling, stretching, gentle yoga, light reading or walking.
Adopting a consistent and regular bedtime can also help to regulate your sleep wake cycle, helping you to not only fall asleep more easily but also improving daytime energy as well (19).
Of course, diet and lifestyle are central to good health and healthy sleep patterns, however sometimes we do require more support. This is where supplements may come in handy.
There are a variety of nutrients and even herbs that can promote a good night's sleep and help you to feel better rested in the morning. Some of the most popular natural supplements for sleep are melatonin, GABA, and valerian, all of which have been shown to improve many factors associated with sleep (20)(21)(22).
The good news is that you don't need to take all of these separately.
SleepFx is your sleep formula that includes all of these, and more, in one supplement for your convenience. The formula combines research backed ingredients proven to help promote a state of relaxation and relieve nervousness while supporting total sleep time and quality of sleep.
This sleep promoting formula helps to reset the circadian rhythm so you can fall asleep quicker and wake up feeling well rested.
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