I think we can all benefit from some tips for better sleep & less stress. The last couple of years have been stressful for most people and as a Nutritionist, something I get asked often is ‘How do I better deal with stress?’ and the next question is almost always ‘I can’t seem to sleep like I used to, what should I do?”
Well, I’m going to tell you a secret: these two things go hand-in-hand.
I’m really passionate sleep
Sleep is often overlooked and undervalued yet it’s such a simple strategy for better overall health. Sleep is so powerful. We heal, rebuild and replenish our bodies through deep, restful slumber. For so many of us it isn’t easy to achieve. Poor sleep hygiene doesn’t allow the body the time to recharge, relax and destress.
Our modern world thrives on the ‘go go go’ mentality. Sleep plays an important part of not only surviving but thriving in our modern world. When we have a good night’s rest we feel refreshed, revitalized and ready to take on the day. In the same vein, after a long night of tossing and turning, we feel sluggish, slow and well crummy.
While it can take some time to develop the right habits for a restful night sleep, there are some powerful tools you can begin to implement into your life in order to assist your nervous system, digestive system and hormones to reach a state of calm which will help beat stress and gain a restorative night sleep.
Video with tips for better sleep and less stress
Deep sleep can significantly lower stress and anxiety
Brand new research from the University of California discovered the strongest information linking anxiety and sleep to date. The research found that deep sleep can significantly lower stress and anxiety, while even one sleepless night can trigger up to a 30% increase in stress levels.
Before I get into some of these tips it’s important to remember that Sleep and Stress management are one of the best things you can do for your health. High cortisol, which can happen to chronically underslept and ongoing stressed out individuals can and usually does lead to chronic disease , weight gain, low energy, poor immune function and difficulty with memory and concentration. Chronic sleep deprivation is strongly associated with almost every single chronic disease.
Luckily none of this is set in stone. Changes can be made in as little as a week and will have an amazing benefit on your overall health and wellness.
Where to start when it comes to better sleep & less stress?
It takes a little more than just opening your eyes and splashing some cool water on your face to wake up in the morning. Our bodies are complex and one of the best things you can do for your body is rev up your digestive system first thing each day. Starting your day with a warm lemon drink is a simple way to reinvigorate your body, lemon juice helps to flush out toxins and aids in digestion by encouraging bile production. Lemon is also a great source of potassium, calcium and magnesium all of which are key in supporting a good night’s sleep and a less stressful day.
Here are a few more simple tips for a better sleep to add to your daily routine:
- Figure out how much sleep you need. While the average person needs between 7-9 hours be sure to find what your sweet spot is.
- Make sure your bedroom is calm and peaceful. Choosing a soothing colour scheme can help make your bedroom more restful. Keep it light and soothing.
- Go to bed at the same time every night. Set an alarm so you don’t forget.
- Keep your bedroom for sleeping. Try not to bring work or TV into the bedroom, our brains begin to associate the environment with stress factors instead of restful sleep.
- Limit your screen time at least two hours before going to bed. Invest in blue blocking glasses for evening wear.
- The temperature in your room should be between 15℃ to 20℃ for you to fall asleep comfortably and stay asleep.
If you practice these sleep hygiene tips, your quality of sleep will improve over time. And, with commitment, they will form a restorative nightly routine.
Yes, there really are foods that can help you have a better sleep!
Essentially, the more stressed a person becomes, the more magnesium is lost from the body. To make matters worse, sleep deprivation itself is a chronic stressor that can lower magnesium levels too. New research suggests that many foods can help you get a better night sleep and therefore help with overall stress levels.
Powerful nutrients from the food in our diet can play a role in how much sleep you get and how restorative it is. Magnesium is not produced by the body, so most people get this essential nutrient through the food they eat.
Studies show that sleep duration was positively linked to magnesium levels, unfortunately most of us aren’t getting enough in our diets. Dietary surveys of the population show that about 70% of people are not consuming enough magnesium in their diets. I always recommend starting by adding magnesium rich foods into our diets. It can be beneficial to add in a supplement as so much of our soils in which the food is grown is lacking this nutrient.
Magnesium is found in many different grains, beans, vegetables and fruits.
For best results, it’s best to eat at least five or more servings of magnesium rich foods throughout the day. Examples of foods high in magnesium include brown rice, spinach, lentils, quinoa, oatmeal, kidney beans, bananas, pumpkin, almonds, and cocoa powder. Many spices and herbs also contain magnesium, such as valerian, lemon balm, passion flower, sage, coriander, fennel seed and tarragon. In my experience by correcting a magnesium deficiency you will often reduce or completely eliminate the craving for chocolate. Try my Sleep Supporting Salad for a yummy magnesium rich meal.
I most often recommend magnesium glycinate or bis-glycinate. This form of magnesium has an affinity for nervous tissue, is highly absorbable and is very well tolerated. It has the least laxative effect of all forms of magnesium and is highly effective for most people.
I love a great sleepy-time smoothie for the evenings when I’m finding it hard to relax.
Sleepy Time Smoothie Recipe
- 1 banana
- 1 cup of milk (almond works well)
- 2 Tbsp oats
- 1 tsp raw honey
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Throw it all in a blender and enjoy this sleep promoting evening shake.
Bananas are a great before bedtime snack because of their natural levels of melatonin and serotonin. Bananas ,oats and almond milk are also a source of magnesium which will help to relax your muscles and promote deep sleep. Enjoy this smoothie about one hour before bed to feel the best benefits.
Get more smoothie recipes in my 21 Day Smoothie Guide!
Final thoughts on getting a better sleep & less stress
Stress can come from many different sources and cause many different symptoms. If you find yourself tossing and turning with anxious thoughts clouding your mind, don’t despair. Many people find themselves sleepless in the wake of stressful events. You may not be able to change the stressors that are keeping you up at night, but you can change how you respond to them.
Try out these tips and if you find them helpful, why not share them with someone you know who could use some de-stressing and a good night’s rest?
This article on tips for better sleep & less stress was lovingly written by my intern Gemma Digby. She is a Holistic Nutritionist and Culinary Nutrition Expert who is intoxicated with the idea that food is medicine. Gemma believes that food should be vibrant, nutritious and delicious. She teaches and empowers women to create vibrant health and find the emotional well-being they’ve been missing. Check her out on Instagram and visit her website to learn how to create vibrant health using simple science-backed strategies that work.