Want to kick-back, relax and sleep more soundly? Here’s your dream ticket.
Ahhh, sleep. It’s one of the fundamentals of good health, as important to your physical and mental wellbeing as diet and exercise. When you stretch out in bed and drift off to dream, this is when your body can concentrate its efforts on repair, while your brain can get to work consolidating information and filing memories. And it’s not called beauty sleep for nothing – your complexion reflects how much quality pillow-time you’re clocking up.
However, sleeping well can sometimes be easier said than done. We’ve all been there, lying awake in the darkness with stressful thoughts magnifying. And let’s not forget how digital devices have infiltrated our lives, with many of us using them late into the night, making switching off tricky.
So what happens the next day? You feel groggy. Grouchy. The smallest task can seem like climbing a mountain. In fact, a recent study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that women were more likely to have sleeping disorders associated with daytime sleepiness than men and feel less able to cope with those effects.
Poor sleep over a longer period is also linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system, which increases the risk of picking up infections, such as colds. “It has also been linked to weight gain because it impacts on energy levels,” explains Sarah Schenker, Liiv Health Sciences Nutritionist. “ A perceived lack of energy can make it harder to be physically active and that can lead to bad eating habits, such as snacking on sugary foods and drinks in a misguided attempt to combat tiredness.”
Lack of sleep can also lower your ability to concentrate, which means your daytime performance will be under par and you’ll tend to make more mistakes. It also messes with your mood, increasing irritability, which in turn, affects relationships. Long term sleep problems can also exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression. “In fact, health and sleep are so inextricably linked that poor sleep can increase the risk of poor health, and poor health can make it harder to sleep,” says Dr Schenker.
Many women experience trouble sleeping during in their lives, particularly because the hormonal fluctuations that mark their different life stages can have an impact – from menstruation and pregnancy to perimenopause and menopause. Being mentally preoccupied with various worries won’t help – you might be concerned with family responsibilities, the future or even letting go of something in the past.
Whatever the cause of sleeplessness, whether you have trouble falling asleep or waking up during the night and not being able to get back to sleep, the sooner you take positive action, the better. This is why the experts at Liiv Health Sciences have developed Rest & Relax.
Rest & Relax…The Bedtime Story
The way you wind down, long before your head actually hits the pillow, can improve the quality of your zzz’s and Rest & Relax is a blend of herbs and botanicals, along with B6 and magnesium, to help release stress and promote healthy sleep. They can be taken during the evening, ideally one to two hours before bed.
Vitamin B6 and magnesium. These nutrients are used by the body to produce calming hormones that allow the brain to switch off and induce sleep.
Passionflower. This botanical contains substances that can help block the breakdown of hormones that promote sleepiness, which is why they have a mild sedative effect.
Lemon balm. Helps to induce a sense of calm, which can relieve anxiety and therefore, aid sleep.
Valerian. Its oils and other constituents can promote the production of hormones needed for sleep, reducing the time to ‘nod off’.
Peppermint. This herb can reduce stress and help the body to relax.
Sleep tip – Try to stop interacting with bright screens on digital devices two or three hours before you go to sleep. The blue light that is emitted can throw your sleep patterns out of sync.
Good night tips – Avoid tea or coffee before bed, or even earlier in the day if you find it affects your sleep at night. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, increasing heart rate and adrenaline production – it also suppresses melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep cycles).
- Alcohol can impair sleep quality during the second half of the night. Whilst it can help people fall asleep, alcohol is also diuretic, which means that you are more likely to need to get up to go to the toilet, which again, disrupts your sleep pattern.
- Eating habits can have an impact. It’s important not to go to sleep feeling hungry, so eating a light snack before bed can be helpful. However, eating a large meal near bedtime should be avoided as the body will spend time digesting it before sleep.
- A warm, milky drink is a good choice before heading for bed. Certain foods contain substances that promote the production of serotonin, the hormone that helps us relax. The amino acid tryptophan is needed for the production of serotonin and is found, among other foods, in milk and dairy products.