Sleep- our secret weapon

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Learn The Secret To Better Sleep

Do you wake feeling rested? Or is sleep an issue for you? Insomnia is often defined as 'taking more than 30 minutes to go to sleep'. Sound familiar?

We all know that sleep and energy go hand-in-hand, but did you know sleep is also beneficial for a healthy appetite, sex-hormones and are mood?. It truly is our secret health weapon!

We all deserve to wake up feeling rested and for that we need want quality sleep not just many hours of it.

Sleep Phases and Nutrition

When we fall asleep we move through different phases of sleep, or sleep cycles. It is easiest to split these cycles into two groups, deep sleep and REM sleep (rapid eye movement). REM sleep is where you dream, and are more likely to remember those dreams. The brains activity in this cycle is similar to when we are awake, and our eyes may even move from side to side, hence the name rapid eye movement! Deep sleep is where the magic happens, as this sleep cycle is restorative and associated with health benefits.

So, while insomnia is troubling, falling asleep is clearly only a part of the picture.

We know when we are tired we are less likely to make food and drink choices that support our health goals.

How to improve sleep

Things you can you make sure you have a deeper more restorative sleep:

-        Monitor your caffeine intake: Coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks all contain caffeine. While 1-2 cups of coffee or tea per day is harmless, did you know that caffeine has a half-life (how long a substance stays in your system) of 8 hours. This means any caffeine consumed after midday will be in your system when you are trying to fall asleep.

-        Practice sleep hygiene: Minimise light from electronic devices (yes that includes your phone) for at least 1 hour before sleep. The light from these devices prevents the rise of the sleep hormone melatonin which is essential for helping us to feel sleepy!

-        Movement: Being physically active and including movement in your day helps to reduce stress hormones that prevent us from falling asleep.

-        Managing worry or anxiety: If you are someone who finds it hard to get to sleep because of the “to-do list” circulating in your mind when your head hits the pillow you may find it helpful to journal before bed time. Writing down thoughts, worries and tasks can help reassure you that these won’t be forgotten and can be addressed tomorrow.

Why do Dietitians discuss sleep with clients?

What are your top tips for healthy sleep habits? Surprisingly this is something that comes up in our work with clients a lot, sleep changes your eating habits and mood so of course it is going to affect your self care each day. So be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to rest more and get into bed early especially in the winter months.

Healthy Eating and Healthy Lifestyle Choices Are Linked

If you need help with your nutrition or the connection between food and lifestyle (including sleep) then we can help.

While we are not insomnia and sleep specialists we are trained in supporting healthy lifestyle changes that can improve your sleep in order to benefit your overall health.

Talk to a Christchurch Registered Dietitian Today to start your health journey for lifelong health.

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