COVID Messing with your sleep? Try these food and lifestyle tips to help you get better sleep

Have you noticed that your sleep has been off the last 6 or so months? Many people's sleep has been off since COVID hit and its no surprise. 

If you think about it, we aren't in our usual routines, there is added stress in our lives and many people have noticed that they have picked up some unhealthy habits. 

Although this can be frustrating, there are some food, supplement and lifestyle tips that may help you with your COVID sleeping blues. 

In terms of nutrition, its important that we try to eat whole and healthy foods and decreased our intake of processed carbohydrates and sugar. Now before you get all defensive, I am not saying you can never have these again but if you have been relying on crackers, bagels and ice cream to get you through quarantine, it may be impacting your sleep more than you think. 

You also want to focus on healthy fats, proteins, and carbs. I know I say this all the time but if you aren't eating these things then it can impact our digestion, hormones, nervous system, and so on. We also want to make sure we are getting good quality fat and protein in order to help maintain blood sugar levels. Healthy carbs can help with this as well but that typically isn't an issue for most people. If your blood sugar is out of whack then you might wake up throughout the night feeling hungry. With that being said, you may also be dehydrated so in conclusion: eat healthy fats, proteins, and carbs and also make sure you are hydrated! 

Next, I want to talk about what you are drinking each day in quarantine. I don't know about you but I have definitely been drinking more coffee than usual and if you are sensitive to caffeine this can disrupt your sleep. Consider cutting back on coffee or switching to herbal tea and definitely avoid having it after lunch. Another thing to consider is if you have been drinking more alcohol and if that may be impacting your sleep. 

On the topic of eating and drinking, one thing you may want to be mindful of is how much you're drinking before bed because you don't want to constantly be waking up to go pee AND also avoid eating two hours before bed. If you're hungry, then eat but snacking before bed every night may not be helping your cause. 

In terms of foods that support sleep, here are some of my favourites: 

  1. dark leafy greens
  2. fatty fish
  3. calming teas such as peppermint, passionflower and chamomile 
  4. almonds and walnuts
  5. cherry juice 
  6. bananas

Next, I want to touch on lifestyle habits because quite frankly, that can actually be just as, if not more, impactful than the food we eat. 

Things you are doing that may be impacting your sleep are:

  • too much screentime especially before bed 
  • keeping your phone in your bedroom
  • working out too close to bedtime - this can be stimulating for some 
  • not moving your body because adequate exercise can actually help with restful sleep while also giving you energy throughout the day
  • STRESS which needs extra attention because I think we are all experiencing added stress during this time whether or not we are conscious of it. Ok, some of you might be saying "well my job hasn't changed and I can still pay my bills" but if you really think about it, we are constantly being inundated with negative news, simple things like getting groceries have changed and we have to remember to bring a damn mask everywhere and not touch our faces? I don't know about you but that makes me want to touch my face more. But in all seriousness, stress can GREATLY impact our sleep especially for those who tend to have a racing mind. 
  • Lack of routine. Our bodies have a natural circadian rhythm and its not the exact same for each person. Working from home has made it a bit too easy to stay up binging on Netflix only to roll out of bed and onto a zoom call at 9:00 am 
  • Your room may also be too warm, bright and noisy

Things to try to help promote restful sleep:

  • reducing screentime (duh) and wearing blue light blocking glasses
  • keeping your phone in another room or elsewhere in your bedroom
  • Even if you are working from home, try to maintain some sort of consistent routine
  • find stress management tools that work for you such as taking a bath with Epsom salts (some people find this to be TOO warming before bed), journaling, meditation, getting outside
  • find a healthy way to include some movement into your daily routine
  • leave a notepad beside your bed for any running thoughts
  • keep your room cool, dark and quiet 

Lastly, for those of you who are really struggling, you may want to consider some short term supplement support. I say short-term because I don't believe this is something you should rely on forever. Also, please note this is going to be different for EVERYONE, so what supplement may work for one person, may not for the next. Always consult your healthcare practitioner before taking any supplements! 

  • Magnesium or the brand Calm Magnesium which blends into tea before bed
  • Vitamin D
  • Valerian root
  • Amino acids (such as tryptophan, GABA and l-theanine)
  • Lemonbalm
  • Vitamin B6
  • Passionflower 

Happy sleeping!

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