‘Circadian eating’ could help you fall asleep, expert recommends

Dr Amir gives sleep advice for clock change

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Sometimes getting to sleep at night can seem impossible. While sleeping issues can be triggered by physical and mental health problems, they can also be the result of lifestyle habits. One expert spoke with Express.co.uk to explain how to make lifestyle changes that will benefit your sleeping pattern.

Senior nutritionist at Holland & Barrett, Alex Glover, said: “There are many reasons for sleepless nights, from cost-of-living worries to streaming giants competing for our nightly schedules, so researching and implementing a personal sleep routine will be essential in 2023.”

One of his “top tips” for getting to sleep at night was linked to eating.

He advised “circadian eating”.

“That means going easy on heavy evening meals and instead turning to late afternoon ‘light’ eating to help aid digestion before bed, particularly in the winter months, to help us stay in tune with our natural, circadian rhythm,” he said.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, circadian rhythms are “24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock”.

They are constantly running in the background to carry out “essential functions and processes”.

The charity says: “One of the most important and well-known circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle.

“Different systems of the body follow circadian rhythms that are synchronised with a master clock in the brain.

“This master clock is directly influenced by environmental cues, especially light, which is why circadian rhythms are tied to the cycle of day and night.

“When properly aligned, a circadian rhythm can promote consistent and restorative sleep. But when this circadian rhythm is thrown off, it can create significant sleeping problems, including insomnia.”

Mr Glover shared four other ways to boost sleep.

Get your bedroom ready for sleep

He said: “Leave your phone or tablet out of your bedroom. Using our tech wisely before bed is already common practice for some and it should become the norm as we recognise that bright screens can result in ‘lightmares’ (continuous overexposure to light) that delay us from snoozing off.”

Set a routine

“Scheduling a regular time to drift off each night will help to make sure that your brain is wired to fall asleep during the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning,” he said.

Add a supplement

He added: “Vitamin D and magnesium are established natural remedies that may help you drift off.”

This was backed by a study published in the Nutrients journal in 2022.

The meta-analysis of 19 trials found that taking vitamin D supplements could boost sleep quality.

It said: “In conclusion, the evidence presented in this review suggests a beneficial role of vitamin D supplementation in enhancing sleep quality.”

And separate research in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences from 2012 said: “Supplementation of magnesium appears to improve subjective measures of insomnia such as ISI score, sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset latency, early morning awakening, and likewise, insomnia objective measures such as concentration of serum renin, melatonin, and serum cortisol, in elderly people.”

Add some regular exercise into your routine

Mr Glover concluded: “Exercise is great for relieving stress and anxiety, which can help with falling asleep faster.

“However, if you’re exercising in the lead up to bedtime, choose relaxing, low-impact exercises, such as yoga, not adrenaline-pumping activities, such as high intensity interval training (HIIT).”

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