Sleep loss can be caused by a range of lifestyle factors, such as taking work home or living next to noisy neighbours.
Firmly established routines can be hard to change, which can be utterly despairing if it is affecting your body clock.
While is wise to take stock of your situation and address the underlying triggers, a growing body of evidence suggests that making even small tweaks can have an immediate effect.
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Revising your diet is one simple and practical step that may restore your sleep-cycle.
Courtesy of registered dietitian Harriet Smith, here are five drinks proven to promote a good night’s sleep.
As Smith explains, the health benefits of drinking the recommended two to three litres of water throughout the day extend to the sleep cycle.
One study found that when people with low intakes of water drank more, they felt calmer, which in turn improved the quality of their sleep and reduced feelings of sleepiness during the day.
For people that do not like the taste of water, Smith says to add fruit and herbs (i.e. mint) for natural flavourings.
“They could also consider using a water filter, which removes small contaminants such as chlorine, rush, and micro plastics from the water, improving the taste and quality,” she says.
While drinking water throughout the day can induce sleep, Smith warns against drinking just before bed as this can increase the amount of trips to the loo during the night, which can affect sleep quality.
According to Smith, the old wives tale extolling the benefits of drinking a warm cup of milk holds a kernel of truth.
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Milk, she explains, contains contain tryptophan, an amino acid which helps increase melatonin levels – a hormone that tells your body when it is time to sleep.
“Studies have shown that drinking milk products before bed may improve sleep quality so you might like to include a mug of warm milk as part of your bedtime routine,” she says.
This calming drink has been shown in a number of clinical trials to improve sleep quality in older people with insomnia, reports Smith.
While the herbal tea has been associated with improved sleep, the link to insomnia and anxiety needs further investigation, she notes.
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According to Smith, cherry juice also contains tryptophan, the precursor to melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.
A small study in 20 adults found that a daily serving of tart cherry juice significantly increased melatonin levels and improved sleep quality.
Bolstering the findings, another study found that drinking just under half a litre of cherry juice per day increased sleep time by an average of 84 minutes in older people with insomnia.
“Both tart and sweet cherries contain tryptophan, so you might like to think about snacking on cherries or including a glass of cherry juice as part of your diet,” advises Smith.
Although, as she points out, it’s recommended that you don’t consume more than 150 ml unsweetened fruit juice per day due to the sugar content.
For those adhering to a dairy-free diet, almond milk is a great sleep-inducing alternative, says Smith.
She explains: “There’s some interesting research showing that eating whole almonds may help to improve sleep quality. This could partly be due to their high tryptophan content, which as mentioned above, helps to increase melatonin, which induces sleep.”
Furthermore, almonds are high in magnesium, which emerging research suggests could be useful for treating insomnia, she notes.
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