Tag Archives: summer

sleep

Sleepless Summer Nights: 5 tips for a good night’s sleep

The current heat wave is leaving many of us sleep deprived, as more than sixty two per cent of adults in the UK struggle to sleep in warm weather. In order to get a good night’s sleep, it is essential for our body’s temperature to drop at night by one degree. This becomes difficult during the warm nights in summer, leaving many people struggling to get to sleep and stay asleep. Read on for five ways to improve sleep naturally.

1. Tart cherry juice

The body needs darkness in order to make the sleep hormone melatonin. The long and light summer days cause melatonin levels to drop, meaning that many of us begin to suffer with sleep problems. Boosting levels of melatonin naturally can help to alleviate this problem.

One of the best ways to boost melatonin levels is to drink tart cherry juice. A recent study found that drinking just 30mls of cherry juice each day is effective in boosting melatonin levels. Adults who drank the cherry juice had more than 25 minutes more sleep each night compared to those who drank a placebo drink, and they also woke less often through the night.

2. Boost your Magnesium levels

Magnesium deficiency is common among adults. It is abundant in leafy greens, and lacking in processed foods, meaning that the typical UK diet often falls short. Magnesium is required for the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and relaxation. For this reason, magnesium supplementation can be helpful in supporting good quality sleep, especially in those who find it hard to ‘switch off’ at night.

Studies have found magnesium to be effective in improving sleep, while increasing melatonin levels and reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol (2). Those who find difficultly sleeping may wish to try supplementing 300mg of a well-absorbed form of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate or magnesium taurate.

3. Try supplementing Lemon Balm and Theanine

Lemon balm is a plant from the mint family, which has been used for centuries to soothe the stomach, reduce anxiety and promote calm. More recent studies have found that lemon balm aids restful sleep by boosting levels of circulating GABA, the brain’s ‘calming’ nurotransmitter.

A pilot study found that lemon balm, at a dose of 600mg for 15 days, resolved insomnia for 85 per cent of participants (3). Hopefully the promising results of this study will pave the way for larger studies in this area.

Combining lemon balm with theanine is thought to be particularly beneficial in promoting healthy sleep. While theanine does not have lemon balm’s sedative effect, it works to boost the brain’s production of alpha waves. These brain waves are linked to deep relaxation. They reduce levels of physical and mental stress, and lower levels of anxiety (4).

4. Eat to Sleep

To encourage good quality sleep, try eating a high-protein, low GI snack, such as natural yoghurt with berries or some almond butter on rye, a couple of hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan needed by the brain to produce the sleep hormone.

While, protein-rich snacks can help, sugary foods will have the opposite effect. These will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low, you may wake up and be unable to fall back asleep.

Alcohol also robs the body of good quality sleep. While a chilled glass of wine might seem tempting on a hot evening, alcohol actually prevents the body from falling into the deeper stages of sleep, where the body does most of its healing.

5. Lower your Core Temperature

Good sleep is strongly linked to core body temperature. In order to get to sleep, your body needs its internal temperature to drop by around one degree. Losing heat actually helps to bring on restful sleep at night. Unfortunately this can be difficult during the summer, when hot days lead to uncomfortable, warm nights.

To combat uncomfortably hot summer nights, a cool bath can encourage a drop in core temperature, bringing on restful sleep. Try adding some Epsom bath salts to boost the effect. Ventilate the bedroom well before bedtime to reduce the room temperature, and keep a cooling water mist spray by the bed for a quick cool down.

References
1. Howatson G et al (2010) Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr 51:8 pp909-916
2. Abbasis B et al (2012) The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci 17:12 pp1161-9
3. Cases J et al (2011) Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Med J Nutr Met 4:3, pp211-8
4. Kimura, K. (2007). L-theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biological psychology, 71(1): 39-45.

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skin

3 top tips for glowing skin and beating the bloat

Making waves on the beach – 3 top tips for glowing skin and beating the bloat

Summer is all about feeling good, looking good and hopefully, enjoying a well-earned break. Most of us know the general advice on how to get in shape for the beach, we just need to find the willpower to do it.

However, sometimes no matter how much effort you put in, many of us still feel far from glowing and confident in our bikinis or beach shorts. So, what last minute tips can you employ that might actually make a difference?

3 top tips for glowing skin

  • There’s truth in the saying that great skin starts from within. Boosting intake of essential fats, particularly the omega-3 fats that are often deficient in our diets, can improve skin lustre and reduce inflammation. Try increasing consumption of oily fish such as mackerel or salmon to three portions a week and add a daily snack of a tablespoon of raw unsalted nuts and seeds. These protein rich foods also increase satiation, helping to curb cravings for sugary snacks. If you are not a fish fan, or if you are vegan or vegetarian, try drizzling Udo’s Choice, a plant based omega blend on salads or in smoothies.
  • Hydration really helps improve the skin but remember to sip water throughout the day rather than all in one go.  If you find water too boring, experiment with infusing a jug of water with seasonal fruits and garden herbs such as watermelon and mint. Cucumber water is also deliciously refreshing.
  • You’re not likely to be heading to the Himalayas on holiday but try to make use of some fine grade Himalayan salt crystals in a DIY body scrub to get the skin glowing. Known for their detoxifying properties, these pretty pink crystals have been around for millions of years and contain an impressive 84 minerals including magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium.

3 top tips for beating the bloat

Bloating can falsely change your shape and size, and can make even confident people feel body shy. Depending on the health of your digestion you may also be prone to gaining weight or suffer with food intolerance’s. A dodgy gut can also be the root cause of lethargy, headaches and skin problems.

  • Increase natural, digestion-friendly fibre such as that found in fruit and vegetables. Not only will it improve transit time, but fibrous food also bind to excess oestrogen in the digestive tract, carrying it out of the body. Good sources include brown rice, carrots, cucumbers and celery. However, contrary to good long term advice, don’t overdo plant proteins like beans, pulses or binge on broccoli in the run up to your travels if they are not already in your diet. All can create excessive gas!
  • If you’ve already joined the gut-health trend then you will be familiar with probiotic rich natural foods such as natural yogurt, kefir or sauerkraut. These foods are an ideal way of increasing beneficial bacteria in the gut that help sort tummy issues at source and even help with natural immunity. If you are new to these foods, introduce small amounts daily.
  • How you eat is important too. Mindful is a word that’s becoming ubiquitous for just about anything related to wellbeing but it is fits perfectly when it comes to eating well. Chew slowly and don’t eat when stressed, simple rules that help ease the bloat. And, when a busy day is coming to an end, soak in a magnesium rich Epsom salts to relax muscle stiffness and help promote a restful beauty sleep.
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