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5 tips for better sleep

Regardless of the person, their age, etc., we all need to sleep; it is a physiological need. Sleep is a mysterious mechanism that is vital for our body and health.

Here are some tips to help optimize your sleep:

Establish a regular bedtime

The body follows a specific rhythm that lasts 24 hours, called the circadian rhythm. Thanks to this rhythm, molecules are released at precise times, including melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone. By going to bed at regular times, our body can adjust its rhythm to these schedules, making it easier to fall asleep by secreting melatonin at the right moment.

Temperature

When we fall asleep, our body temperature drops. To facilitate falling asleep and improve sleep quality, it is essential to help the body regulate its temperature. For example, it is recommended to sleep in a room with a temperature around 19-20 °C. Additionally, drinking a non-stimulating hot beverage (such as herbal tea) can help lower body temperature and facilitate falling asleep.

Blue light

The circadian rhythm also adapts to brightness. The more light there is, the less melatonin is produced, and conversely, the darker it is, the more melatonin is secreted. The circadian rhythm is particularly sensitive to blue light. Exposure to too much blue light, mainly emitted by screens, can disrupt this rhythm. Therefore, it is recommended to limit screen time at least an hour before going to bed.

Nutrition

Maintaining a balanced diet also plays a crucial role in achieving good sleep quality.

It has been observed that having a dinner with carbohydrates a few hours before bedtime increases the plasma concentration of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that allows the synthesis of serotonin, which, in turn, promotes the secretion of melatonin.

Likewise, a meal with unsaturated fatty acids improves sleep quality, while a meal rich in saturated fatty acids reduces sleep quality.

Proteins, on the other hand, provide the body with tryptophan.

However, meat should be limited before bedtime due to its richness in saturated fatty acids. Also, an excessive intake of proteins before bedtime can lead to competition between amino acids and alter melatonin secretion.

Spicy foods in the evening should also be avoided, as they may reduce sleep quality.

Herbal Infusion

Many plants are known for their sleep-inducing properties. Making herbal infusions can help with falling asleep. Here are some examples of plants for sleep:

  • Passionflower
  • Valerian
  • Melissa
  • Hawthorn

Bibliography:


Baek, Y., Kim, H., Mun, S., & Lee, S. (2018). Three-Component Herbal Tea Alleviates Prolonged Fatigue and Improves Sleep Quality: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. EXPLORE, 14(6), 420-423. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2018.05.001


Doherty, Madigan, Warrington, & Ellis. (2019). Sleep and Nutrition Interactions: Implications for Athletes. Nutrients, 11(4), 822. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11040822


Edwards, S. J., Montgomery, I. M., Colquhoun, E. Q., Jordan, J. E., & Clark, M. G. (1992). Spicy meal disturbs sleep: an effect of thermoregulation? International Journal of Psychophysiology, 13(2), 97-100. https://doi.org/10.1016/0167-8760(92)90048-g


Kechribari, I. et al. (2020). Associations between red meat intake and sleep parameters in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 1042-1053. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2019.10.016


Ngan, A., & Conduit, R. (2011). A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Investigation of the Effects of Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) Herbal Tea on Subjective Sleep Quality. Phytotherapy Research, 25(8), 1153‑1159. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.3400


Wahl, S., Engelhardt, M., Schaupp, P., Lappe, C., & Ivanov, I. V. (2019). The inner clock—Blue light sets the human rhythm. Journal of Biophotonics, 12(12). https://doi.org/10.1002/jbio.201900102


Zhao, M., Tuo, H., Wang, S., & Zhao, L. (2020). The Effects of Dietary Nutrition on Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Mediators of Inflammation, 2020, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3142874

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