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Health

How to sleep when the clocks go back this weekend: The best food to eat before bed


Sleep problems, like disturbed sleep patterns caused by the clocks going backwards or forwards, can result in a number of health problems.

As well as impacting how you go about your day, it can affect your mood and relationships and increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

So with the clocks going back an hour on Sunday 28 October, how can you make sure you have uninterrupted sleep?

The key to a good night’s sleep is eating chocolate before bed, according to dietician and lecturer at King’s College London, Sophie Medlin.

Teaming up with Time 4 Sleep, Sophie said: “Tryptophan is the biggest influence on melatonin levels, an important hormone which controls our sleep patterns.

“Melatonin is produced in the brain and the amount of it we produce, and how efficiently our brain uses it, is affected by our diet.

“Chocolate is a particularly good source of tryptophan, so a hot chocolate or a little bit of chocolate before bed is actually really good for sleep, so long as you don’t over-indulge.”

Other nutrients that help aid sleep include B vitamins, calcium and magnesium, also due to their role in the release of melatonin in the brain.

Foods rich in these nutrients include:

  • Meta
  • Fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli
  • Soya beans
  • Dairy products such as cheese, milk and yoghurt
  • Pulses such as beans, lentils and peas

Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, medical director of The London Sleep Centre, has also provided advice on how to get a good night’s sleep.

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Write it down

If you’re lying awake worrying about your to do list, or how financially or physically you’re going to achieve something, then simply writing it down can help make things feel more manageable.

Dr Ebrahim suggests keeping a small notebook on your bedtime table and anytime you’re lying in bed feeling overwhelmed, sit up, turn the bedside lamp on and just note down everything that’s on your mind.

Reduce exposure to blue light

The bedroom should be a place for rest and not a working office. Dr Ebrahim explained: “With today’s life demands it can be hard to fully ‘switch off’ from emails and social media, but if you can it will really benefit your sleep.

“If you do insist of having a phone in the bedroom then try not to look at the screen at least 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep, so that your melatonin levels have a chance to regulate. Try reading a book instead and put your phone on do not disturb mode if possible to limit distractions.”

Find a way to relax

Whether it’s a hot bath, some meditation, or listening to music. Dr Ebrahim advised: “Try and find something that helps you wind down after a busy or stressful day so that you put your body and mind in the best position to sleep.

“Everybody is different and no matter how big or small it might be it can be a big help in improving your sleep.”

Exercise

Gentle exercise, such as a short walk around the block can help to relieve tension and is a great way to boost melatonin and make you feel sleepy, according to Dr Ebrahim.

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He added: “However, make sure you don’t exercise too close to your preferred bedtime as it can have the opposite affect and don’t do any vigorous exercise.”

Stick to the same sleeping hours

Although it’s sometimes impossible, going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday can really help get your body in to a good rhythm for sleep.

Dr Ebrahim said: “I would suggest sticking to the same bedtime every week night and weekends if possible.”

So how much sleep do we need? A recent study revealed the right number of sleeping hours you should be getting



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