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Holistic healing: sleep issues

I get off to sleep quickly but often wake in the small hours and struggle to get back off to sleep until it’s nearly time to get up! What can I do about this?

Rosie Weston, Nutritional Therapist, CNM graduate answers for CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine)

Your sleep can be affected by much more than the food you eat. What you do in the few hours before bedtime can negatively or positively affect your sleep cycle. Alcohol, caffeine, temperature, electronics, pollution and noise are all known sleep disruptors. Best to drink caffeine in the morning and not after 2pm and save alcohol for the weekends. Electronic devices emit blue light which affects melatonin production (our sleep-regulating hormone).

Try not to use these the few hours before bed or wear blue light-blocking glasses. Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark as this creates the best environment for deep sleep.

Magnesium is required in melatonin production; increase magnesium-rich foods like organic almonds, leafy green veg and white beans or try taking a good quality supplement which includes magnesium malate or bisglycinate before bed; 300mg is the RDA, but individual requirements need a nutritional therapist’s advice.

Tryptophan-rich foods such as bananas, turkey, nuts, seeds and dairy also support serotonin production - a hormone very much involved in the sleep-wake cycle, so aim to eat these in your evening meals.

Opt for balanced meals throughout the day and especially in the evening. These keep blood sugar stable through the night and will stop you from waking up when your blood sugar levels drop.

If you continue to have broken or disturbed sleep, seek the services of a nutritional therapist who will be able to support you with personalised recommendations.

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