What You Eat Can Help You Sleep

Research has shown that prebiotics reduce the impact of stress on our bodies, helping us to feel stronger and calmer.

At some point in time we have all experienced how hard the day can be after a restless night’s sleep. Especially in times of high stress, we need sleep like the oxygen we breathe to help us move through whatever we are experiencing at the time, whether it’s work, family or study.

If you have insomnia, which is thought to affect 1 in 3 people in the UK, you may have trouble switching off or staying asleep. Lack of sleep on a regular basis can manifest physical and mental health issues such as fatigue, anxiety and depression.

If you have ever experienced any of these you may find yourself with problems like lack of concentration, slower reaction time or a general decline in mental clarity.

STRESS is very damaging to sleep patterns. Sleeping less can cause a surge in our stress hormones and in particular cortisol, interrupting our circadian rhythms.

Prebiotics are fibres that feed the microorganisms in our gut that we call ‘probiotics’. You can’t really have one without the other. A recent study by Thompson et. al. suggests that prebiotics reduce the physiological impact of stress on the body and, in turn, the quality of our sleep.

Daily stress can affect our gut microbiome, the health guy flora that keeps us healthy and happy. So when this gets out of whack – known as gut dysbiosis – this can upset the sleep/ wake cycle. So feeding the gut flora will also give the added bonus of strengthening the immune system.

To maximise the benefits of a happy, healthy tummy you should consider adding these practices to your daily routine.

  1. Eat plenty of fermented foods, such as fermented raw veggies
  2. Increase your soluble and insoluble fibre: vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted vegetables
  3. Breathe – get out into the fresh air, open the windows and get some natural light

From lots of research and personal experience, early life gut dysbiosis may be associated with the onset of allergies, colitis and gut inflammation.

Feeding the gut and making it a happy space will improve your sleep and lift your mood. Prebiotic are non-digestible fibres found in foods such as artichoke, garlic, dandelion leaves, asparagus and onions. These all contain a water-soluble fibre called inulin. Inulin nourishes the gut flora and in turn nourishes a healthy gut.

If you struggle to eat enough prebiotic foods, a stress-free and cost-effective way to increase your fibre intake is to add psyllium husks to your meal plans (you want the organic type)…

Having a restless night’s sleep can have a massive effect on your day, slowing down productivity and cognitive function. If this becomes a consistent pattern, you may start to see lower sex drive, depression, diabetes, heart problems and strokes.

Start playing your A-game with these tips to powering up your gut. They are designed to help you eat a rich food full of prebiotic fibre which will support the quality of your sleep and your ability to manage stress:

  1. Exercise daily – plenty of sit-ups, crunches and twists around the tummy area. This will build pressure back into the gut and help with eliminating waste
  2. Breathe – getting fresh air into the body first thing in the morning powers up your energy and gets oxygen to all the right places
  3. Avoid caffeine after lunch
  4. No screen time after 8pm or. if you have to. put on the night mode on your devices – personally I get into the habit of just no devices after 8pm
  5. Eat lightly in the evening, leaving at least three hours after food and before sleep. Eat your biggest meal of the day at lunchtime. When sleeping your body can focus on restoration, giving you that feeling of being well-rested when you rise the next day. (Always promise yourself to have a good breakfast)

When body and mind work in harmony with one another you experience great health and can unleash your creative power and achieve more of what you want.

Krista Jay
Health & Lifestyle Coach
CNM Course Director for Health Coaching

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