Three ways to get a good night's sleep

24 May 2017

The University of Sydney's Chin-Moi Chow explains what you should be doing to get that good sleep in.

It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep is a key factor in overall physical and mental health, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more. 

However, there are lifestyle factors that can influence our sleep patterns and stop us from banking all of those much needed ‘zzzzzs’.

Researcher, Chin-Moi Chow from Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, compiled her key lifestyle changes that can help you to get a healthy night’s sleep.

Find out what three changes you can incorporate into your daily routine below.

1. Eat the right food

The best types of food to consume before bed are those that contain naturally high amounts of tryptophan or serotonin.

Some examples of these are: milk, yoghurt, cheese, pumpkin seeds, tart cherries or cherry juice and kiwi fruit.

Certain carbohydrates and fats can be consumed in combination with these foods 3-4 hours before your usual bedtime.

The best types of these are: bread, rice, potatoes or other moderately high GI carbohydrates. These combinations of food help drive tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier, converting it to serotonin.

2. Avoid alcohol

While alcohol may help you fall asleep more quickly and allow you to sleep more soundly initially, once the effect of alcohol wears off, the later part of your night’s rest may see you wake up multiple times and have a much lighter sleep. This can reduce your alertness and performance the following day and these effects can accumulate across several nights.

3. Skip stimulants

Caffeine is one of the most commonly consumed foods in the world, but it’s also a stimulant and can severely disrupt your sleep. Caffeine takes about 30 minutes to have an alerting effect and stays in the body for a relatively long period. Avoid any food or drink containing caffeine 6-8 hours before your bedtime.

Nicotine is another stimulant, which can also prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep as well as causing insomnia. Nicotine consumption is linked to reduced deep sleep, suppressed REM sleep, trouble falling and staying asleep, fragmented sleep patterns and daytime sleepiness.

By eating the right food, and avoiding stimulants and alcohol, you will have a vastly improved night’s sleep.

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