Good quality sleep is dependent on a number of important factors including how we think, how we move, how we breathe and even what we eat.

Getting a cozy nights sleep is like a big warm hug to all of your body systems. A time to nourish, nurture, heal and repair everything from the inside out. To ensure your body is getting the quantity and quality of sleep it needs each night, it is important to understand the things that nourish our sleep vs. the things that may disrupt it.

It might seem obvious that having a double shot espresso right before bed is not the best idea if you are wanting a peaceful nights sleep but keeping coffee consumption to mornings only as a general rule is a good idea for sweeter slumber. The stimulating effects of coffee can last up to 12 hours in the body, making it more difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Instead, a swap to a herbal tea in the evenings can make for a calming addition to any bedtime ritual. Some favourites include:

  • Chamomile – a deliciously gentle tea which can work to soothe anxiety and tension
  • Passionflower – used for hundred of years for its ability to calm the nervous system and promote deep, restful sleep
  • Valerian – calms and quietens the mind, has a sedative, relaxant action, eases muscle related tension

Best enjoyed 30 minutes – 1 hour before sleep.

Stay hydrated! Just like we need water to function at our best during the day, staying hydrated throughout the day can keep our fluid levels up throughout the night, avoiding disrupted sleep associated with dehydration. Rather than drinking too much water right before bed, which may have you up in the night, aim to drink up throughout the day, Alcohol should be kept to a minimum to avoid dehydration and disrupting the natural sleep cycle of the body.

Starting the day with a serving of protein at breakfast and adding greens to most meals can combat late afternoon/late night sugar cravings and snack attacks. Evidence shows that eating less fibre, more saturated fats and more sugar (found in takeaways and most processed foods) throughout the day is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep.

Magnesium-rich foods can help promote sleepiness and combat insomnia. Research determines that higher levels of magnesium helped provide deeper, more consistent sleep due to the calming effects of this nutrient. Some favourite magnesium rich foods include spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds and dark chocolate.

The body does an amazing job at making chemicals which make us feel sleepy and support our sleep-wake cycle. A mixture of good quality protein with vegetables and a small serving of complex carbohydrates (e.g. potato, kumara) can boost healthy hormones like melatonin and get us ready for bed!

If you do get the munchies before bedtime and want to prepare a little snack that will support your sleep, you can try some treats like 1/2 banana and almond butter, hummus with veggie sticks, seaweed snacks or a small handful of nuts – almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts all contain nutrients which support sleep.

For bedtime, try to avoid feeling too full, or too hungry, as both can lead to discomfort and risk waking you in the night. Always listen to your body and reflect on the things that are working for you and the things you might like to work on.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”

Niki Loe
Personal Trainer – Pilates – Nutrition