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Dream big: sleep better

Expert tips to get a better night's rest

In our hectic, fast-paced world, the importance of sleep cannot be overstated. Sleep is not just a nightly ritual to recharge our bodies; it is a fundamental cornerstone of overall wellbeing. Lack of sleep can affect our mental and physical health, and can impact our immune system, cognitive function, hormones and metabolic health. This month marks World Sleep Day on 15 March. Join us as we highlight the importance of a good night's rest, and learn some expert tips to enjoy a more restful and rejuvenating slumber.

Regulate your sleep times

"Aim for 7 to 9 hours nightly, and stick to a consistent schedule," says Claudia Dumond, holistic health coach and founder of Minimondo ( "This helps regulate your body's internal clock over time. That's right – try to avoid erratic bedtimes or late-night Netflix binges!"

Create a relaxing bedtime ritual

Develop calming pre-sleep habits, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practising relaxation techniques. This signals to your body that it's time to wind down. Reduce exposure to electronic devices like phones, tablets, and computers at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted can interfere with your body's production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine and sugar close to bedtime. Engage in regular physical activity, but try to complete workouts at least a few hours before bedtime. Exercise promotes better sleep, but late-night exercise may have the opposite effect.

Try supplementing with magnesium

"One of the best nutrients to support sleep is the mineral magnesium," says Maz Packham, nutritionist at Nourishful Nutrition ( and @nourishful_nutritionist). "It supports the regulation of calming neurotransmitters like GABA, which promotes relaxation of the body and mind. Research suggests it can help improve sleep quality and duration.

It can also help you fall asleep more quickly due to the relaxing effect it has on the body. This is why it's known as nature's tranquiliser. Magnesium can be taken at any time of day but it's best to take it in the evening with food to get the most from its relaxing benefits."

Top up with tryptophan

"Tryptophan is another important nutrient for sleep," says Maz Packham. "It's an essential amino acid that the body converts into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood and production of melatonin, our sleep hormone. If you regularly eat foods such as chicken, turkey, nuts and seeds, you'll be getting this amino acid in your diet. But ensure you also have sufficient vitamin B6 in your diet. This is because it's needed as a co-factor to convert tryptophan into serotonin, which is then used as a pre-curser to serotonin to support sleep."

Stock up on nutrients

"Food and nutrients are not only vital to keep us fuelled, but also to aid relaxation and sleep," says registered nutritional therapist Lucia Stansbie ( "The hormone melatonin plays a role in your natural sleep-wake cycle and is found in many edible plants and nuts like almonds, walnuts, tart cherry, kiwis, banana, orange peppers, tomatoes, black and red rice, wheat, barley, oats, mushrooms, goji berries, ginger and sesame seeds. Another important nutrient is vitamin B6, which is essential to convert tryptophan into melatonin. It is found in avocado, bananas, carrots, egg yolk, oatmeal, salmon, tuna, sunflower seeds and walnuts."

Balance your blood sugar

"When talking about sleep regulation, it is also important to keep in mind possible blood sugar imbalances as sudden drops in blood sugar levels during the night can wake us up," says Lucia Stansbie. "For this reason, I am not a big fan of the old wives' tale of going to bed hungry. Here are some ideas for nourishing, sleep supportive meals:

Be mindful of your alcohol consumption

While alcohol might initially make you feel drowsy, it can disrupt your sleep cycle later in the night. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and consider finishing your last drink several hours before bedtime.

Snack smart before bed

If you're hungry before bedtime, opt for a light and balanced snack. Greek yogurt, a banana, or a handful of almonds are good choices that won't cause discomfort.

Enjoy herbal tea

Some herbal teas, such as chamomile or valerian root tea, are known for their calming effects. Enjoy a caffeine-free herbal tea before bedtime to promote relaxation.

Manage stress

Practise stress-reducing techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to calm your mind before bedtime. Create a worry-free zone and leave daily concerns outside the bedroom.

Optimise your sleep environment

"Keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark to promote better sleep," says Claudia Dumond. "Invest in a good mattress and pillows and consider investing in blackout curtains or a white noise machine to block out any disruptive noises or light.

The optimal temperature for sleep typically falls between 15 to 19 degrees Celsius.

Incorporating these tips into your routine can improve sleep quality and leave you feeling refreshed each day. Remember, everyone's sleep needs are different, so it may take some trial and error to find what works best for you. Sweet dreams!"

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