Sleep seems to be the one thing that most people want more of, but are getting less and less of. Perhaps we are living in a time of overstimulation, or maybe everyone is looking to pack as much as they can into their day. Regardless, the evidence is clear that sleep is essential to maintain overall good health. Certified Nutritional Health Counselor, Sara Siskind has come up with some simple tips to help you improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Some Helpful Tips from Sara Siskind That Can Improve Your Sleep Quality and Quantity
Besides creating a comfortable and peaceful bedroom in my home, there are other things I do to help induce sleep, starting with my diet and daily habits. Preparing for a good night’s sleep should begin at mealtime, especially as it gets closer to bedtime. There are several foods I make sure to eat that help create a calming effect, both on my brain and body. I also have some lifestyle habits that really help me get the most out of my sleep every night. Here are some practical and easy tips I incorporate into my life to help me get a restful night.
CREATE BEDTIME RITUALS
Creating a smarter nighttime routine is my secret to waking up well-rested and happy. What I do in the evening hours really impacts how I sleep. For starters, I must power off my electronics, especially my phone, for at least an hour before I want to go to sleep. This helps calm my mind, and also reduce the strain on my eyes from staring at the screen. Next, I make sure the temperature is just right. For me, the perfect temperature is somewhere between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit so my body is neither hot, nor cold. Finally, shutting the lights off completely helps to ease my body naturally into sleep.
FOODS TO EAT FOR BETTER SLEEP
There are foods that are nutritious and may also help naturally induce sleep. Many of these foods help to increase the natural hormone called melatonin that our bodies produce. Some people produce less melatonin than others and therefore, I find it helpful to include these foods in my evening meal or snack:
- Tart Cherry Juice – a morning and evening ritual of having tart cherry juice has helped me sleep better at night. Researchers from Louisiana State University have concluded that drinking the juice of Montmorency tart cherries twice a day for two weeks helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 minutes among older adults with insomnia.
- Pistachio Nuts – besides being a powerhouse of heart-healthy fats, protein, and fiber, pistachios also contain a significant amount of Vitamin B6, which can help to induce sleepiness. According to the Alaska Sleep Clinic, a deficiency in B6 has been linked with lowered serotonin levels and poor sleep. Deficiencies in B6 shows symptoms of depression and mood disorders which can also lead to insomnia. I chose high quality pistachios such as Setton Farms Pistachios which are sold in convenient 100 calorie packs so you don’t overeat them.
- Bananas – bananas are full of magnesium and potassium which are natural muscle relaxers which can help your body to unwind and relax.
- Chamomile Tea – Chamomile is a soothing, herbal tea that naturally lacks caffeine. Having a hot cup of Chamomile Tea before bed comforts me and sets my body into relaxation mode.
- Kiwis – these fruits contain a significant amount of serotonin. Researchers at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University studied the effects of kiwi consumption on sleep. They found that eating kiwi on a daily basis was linked to substantial improvements to both quality and quantity of sleep.
NO CAFFEINE AFTER 2
I always stay away from the usual caffeine culprits like coffee, tea, and sodas in the afternoon. These drinks can really shake me up and cause restlessness into the night. I also look out for foods that contain hidden caffeine such as chocolate, candy bars, protein bars, fancy vitamin waters, and even decaf coffee can have trace amounts of caffeine. In addition, I find drinking a lot of fluids, even water, in the evening hours tends to wake me up at night and disrupts my overall sleeping pattern.
SET A CONSISTENT SLEEP SCHEDULE
Whether it’s a weekday, weekend, or vacation, I always try to get up at the same time every day. Our body’s internal clock (also known as the circadian rhythm), becomes stabilized when you habitually get up at the same time daily. Because I’m consistent in my slept habits, regardless of what I’m doing, my body knows when to naturally shut down to give me the 7-8 hours of sleep that I need. Give it a try for a least 21 days and you will start feeling more rested.
EXERCISE AT THE RIGHT TIME OF DAY
Among its many benefits, such as weight management, stress reduction, and disease prevention, exercise is important to my sleep quality! Without daily exercise, I find myself out of balance, and lately I’ve been noticing even what time I exercise has an impact on me as well. When I exercise in the morning or early afternoon, it helps me fall asleep quicker and reduces the amount of times I lay awake up at night. When I exercise within an hour of my bedtime, my body becomes overstimulated which can lead me to insomnia. I rest more soundly if I stick to a morning routine.
About Sara Siskind
Certified Nutritional Health Counselor, Sara Siskind is the founder of Hands On Healthy, cooking classes for adults, families and teens based in New York. Sara has dedicated her career to educating clients on how food and lifestyle choices affect health, and how to make the right choices to look and feel your best each day. Sara translates the complexity of integrated nutrition into usable tools with easy-to-cook recipes that appeal to the entire family. Sara counsels privately to offer highly customized health and nutrition plans for her clients. She also works with parents on shopping and cooking smarter to create healthier homes. In addition, she teaches beginner to gourmet cooking classes with her signature “toss it in” approach. In addition, Sara regularly works with corporations and non-profit organizations to lead workshops and lectures on healthy eating.