Here are my 10 hacks for a better night’s sleep.
1. get off the caffeine
WHAT DOES CAFFEINE DO TO OUR SLEEP?
Attention, Nerd Alert, it smells like biology class: caffeine is a stimulant that prevents adenosine from binding to its receptors. Adenosine is a neuromodulator in the brain that is responsible for making us feel sleepy; adenosine builds up throughout the day and creates what is called “sleep pressure“, which makes us tired and (hopefully) makes us fall asleep. As we sleep, the adenosine is removed from our brain so that when we wake up the next day, the sleep pressure is gone and we can start the day feeling refreshed.
As we get older, we also break down caffeine more slowly in the body, which means it also has a longer lasting effect and so coffee in the morning or afternoon may affect our sleep at night.
2. away with the blue light
With these two pairs of glasses, you reduce the amount of blue light hitting your retina.
What does blue light do to our sleep? It suggests to our brain that it’s still daytime, so there may not be enough melatonin released for us to fall asleep.
When do we expose ourselves to blue light? For example, when we look at our mobile phone or other screens in the evening before we go to sleep. Ideally, you should turn them off an hour before you go to sleep. If that’s too hard for you, then use these glasses because they filter out the blue light.
With my glasses on, I always look like I’m in my pyjamas trying to get to the Formula 1 race. But fortunately not many people see me there.
3. make it nice and dark
4. drink tea from medicinal herbs
This dreamy tea from krautcraft contains hops, lemon balm, lavender and passion flower. And these medicinal herbs can all have a calming effect. The contained cornflowers make it look pretty as well. I also find the tea very tasty and like to drink it in bed at night.
5. hemp can calm
6. eat tryptophan-rich foods in the evening
Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids, i.e. a building block of proteins, which you have to take in through food because you cannot produce this amino acid yourself.
You need tryptophan, for example, to be able to produce melatonin – the sleep hormone. Simplified, it works like this: tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin. Without tryptophan there is no serotonin and without serotonin there is no melatonin.
Now there are foods that provide you with a comparatively high amount of tryptophan:
Of the foods that are suitable for Body Re:set, these include lentils, cashews, soybeans and green beans. Here at Eatsmarter you can find a whole list of tryptophan-rich foods.
Sour cherries are shown here because they contain a comparatively high amount of melatonin as well as additional tryptophan.
7. eat the right carbohydrates in the evening
If you eat a carbohydrate-rich diet in the evening – ideally with healthy carbohydrates – this promotes the absorption of tryptophan into the brain.
You know healthy carbohydrates from the Body Re:set course: sweet potatoes, parsnips, celeriac, pulses (and pasta made from them), quinoa, wholemeal rice or wholemeal bread, to name just a few foods.
So carbohydrates plus tryptophan-containing foods for dinner = good conditions for the body’s melatonin production. And that increases the chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
But make sure you eat healthy proteins and fats along with the carbs. It’s all in the mix. A carbohydrate-only meal, on the other hand, could lead to a greater drop in blood glucose levels at night after a previous rise. This is why some women wake up at night. The body then releases cortisol to bring the blood sugar back into the normal range and you are awake.
8. magnesium can help
Magnesium works to relax muscles.
A magnesium deficiency can show itself through the following symptoms:
– Muscle cramps
– trouble sleeping through the night
– Headache / migraine
– Fatigue / listlessness
– Depression / anxiety
– Craving for chocolate (cocoa contains a lot of magnesium)
– Rapid exhaustion after exercise
You absorb magnesium in particular when you eat the following plant foods:
– Pumpkin seeds
– sunflower seeds
– cashew nuts
– Soft fruit
If you do not manage to cover your magnesium needs through your diet, then you can resort to appropriate dietary supplements. There are various magnesium salts such as citrate, lactate, gluconate, aspartate and aspartate hydrochloride.
Of all the preparations, magnesium glycinate* or magnesium bisglycinate (used synonymously) seems to be the best tolerated and has a high bioavailability.
Important: you should take the recommended daily dose for at least four weeks. Your body needs some time to adapt to the new supply of magnesium. And: never take the entire daily dose at once, but rather spread it out over the course of the day. This is more physiological and your body can then get more out of each individual portion.
If you suffer from constipation, another magnesium preparation could also be beneficial for you: Magnesium citrate* can have a mild laxative effect. If you want it to be more sustainable, go to Sunday Natural; they have it in a refill bag that is compostable or in a glass bottle.
Important: Magnesium is not a laxative, and you should always discuss constipation with your family doctor. The fact that it “flows more easily” with magnesium citrate is only a possible side effect that magnesium can also have.
Important: sometimes there are magnesium preparations that contain a mix of different magnesium salts. If you have trouble sleeping, you should not take a magnesium preparation that contains magnesium malate, because this can make you a little more awake.
9. Write down three things you're grateful for each day
10. get away from stress
There are few saliva tests that are useful. Measuring cortisol in the daily profile* using saliva is one of the few useful saliva tests. Here we look at how far the cortisol level deviates from the natural distribution. It should be highest in the morning half an hour after getting up and low in the evening. In people who experience a lot of stress, the cortisol profile can behave the other way round. In the morning the level is low and in the evening it is high. These people are “tired and wired”. A high cortisol level in the evening prevents the release of melatonin.
11. melatonin can help
Before you take sleeping pills, I would talk to your doctor about taking melatonin. Melatonin is one of the hormones that control the day-night rhythm and is produced in the body from the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Melatonin preparations are available without a prescription in Germany, although melatonin as a hormone-active ingredient actually requires a prescription. The reason: the amounts in the preparations are so small that they can also be contained in food. Nevertheless, I would always seek the advice of a doctor or even a pharmacist when taking hormones. There is a good article about this here at Apotheken Umschau.
12. progesterone can help
Progesterone is the hormone that contributes to a good night’s sleep. In the perimenopause, it is precisely this hormone that decreases first. Because if there are fewer ovulations, because one or two ovulations fail, then there are also fewer follicles. And without follicles, the ovaries don’t produce progesterone. Talk to your gynaecologist about what she thinks about taking bioidentical progesterone – e.g. Famenita.
Artificially modified progesterone derivatives – unlike progesterone identical to the body – do not improve sleep. Therefore, if you take a progesterone derivative as part of a hormone replacement therapy, it will not have a positive effect on your sleep.
Bonus. Train to sleep better
You can also have your GP prescribe a digital health application, i.e. an app, for sleep disorders – after clarifying other possible causes. In the case of sleep disorders, the somnio app can help you with training to sleep better again.
If you want to delve deeper into the topic of sleep, you can also read my article on the blog: What our sleep has to do with our hormones – Link.
Now I wish you peaceful nights in these frightening times. I don’t know about you, but my dreams have rarely been so wild and dark. All the more reason for me to end my evenings with a soothing herbal tea.