Bedtime reading: Ten ways to a better night's sleep

Written by
Lily Soutter

06 Dec 2016

06 Dec 2016 • by Lily Soutter

It has been reported that more than half (51.3%) of people in the UK struggle to drift off at night. Sleep deprivation can drastically affect quality of life, and often results from stress, anxiety and even a poor diet.

Here are ten bedtime rituals to boost the quality of your sleep:

1. Consume a bed-time snack rich in tryptophan

Tryptophan is part of a protein molecule, and is the building block of our sleep hormone, melatonin. Consumption of foods rich in tryptophan such as turkey, yoghurt, eggs, nuts and seeds may boost melatonin production as well as quality of sleep.

By combining 30g of carbohydrates to your snack you can boost tryptophan absorption and utilisation drastically. A slice of wholegrain rye bread topped with turkey would make the perfect bedtime snack. 

2. Drink a cup of valerian root tea

Valerian is the herb of choice when it comes to sleep disorders and insomnia. Try brewing a cup of valerian root tea one hour before bed. 

3. Mindfulness meditation

There is an abundance of studies to prove the stress-reducing and sleep-inducing impacts of mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness is all about being in the present moment, which can help reduce overthinking and future/past worries. 

4. Drink a small glass of tart cherry juice before bed

Tart cherries are a natural source of the sleep hormone, melatonin. One study has shown that consumption of cherry juice twice daily can increase sleep time by more than 90 minutes a night.

5. Avoid blue light

Blocking blue light before bed can transform sleep. Blue light from laptops, phones, ipads and TV’s can trick our brain into think that it’s daytime. This can disrupt the brain’s natural sleep-wake cycle leading to a poor night’s sleep. 

6. Eat a kiwi a day

Kiwis are rich in our happy neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is the precursor to our sleep hormone melatonin. Studies have shown that eating a kiwi each day, an hour before bed, can substantially improve sleep and sleep quality.  

7. Invest in essential oils like lavender

What we breath can affect how we sleep. Lavender has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, whilst inducing a more relaxed state. Incorporate lavender oils, candles or pillow sprays in your relaxing bedtime routine.

8. Write a' to do' list

At least an hour before bed, put together a ‘to do’ list. This can prevent worrying about, or mulling over, tasks for the next day while trying to sleep. 

9. Eat at least two portions of oily fish each week

A higher intake of DHA omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish has been shown to stimulate the release of our sleep hormone melatonin. An Oxford University study showed that four months of supplementation of DHA fats helped children to sleep for an hour longer each night. 

10. Have a magnesium bath

Magnesium is a calming mineral and has been dubbed ‘natures tranquiliser’. Deficiencies often occur when under chronic stress. Magnesium is effectively absorbed trans-dermally, making baths a relaxing way to increase our intake