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Sleep Better – 5 tips for a good rest

5 Tips for an optimal nighttime sleep

When you’re laying in bed after a long and busy day, hoping for a good night’s rest, the trouble starts: you can’t get to sleep. After a few hours staring at the ceiling and overthinking your day, you wake up being more tired than before. Recognisable? That could very well be, because almost a quarter of the Dutch population experiences sleep deprivation. One night of bad sleep isn’t a total disaster, but the more you experience sleep deprivation, the more it takes a toll on both physical and mental health. And that is something we’re here to prevent. That’s why this blog will give you 5 tips for an optimal nighttime sleep.

1. Quantity: get enough rest

Plenty of sleep is important to restore your physical and mental energy. Another important factor is the time you give your brains to process all the impressions and impulses you’ve experienced that day. But what is ‘enough’ sleep? The amount of sleep you need differs per person and is also variable based on age. A newborn baby needs 16 to 18 hours of sleep per day, whereas adults suffice with 7 to 9 hours sleep per day. Checking the sufficient quantity of resting hours is simple: you have a healthy rhythm when you fall asleep easily at night, and wake up feeling rested the day after.

2. Quality: a good sleep

Besides the quantity of sleep, you’ll also need a qualitative sleep. The quality of sleep can be improved in several ways. First of all, make sure that your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet and you have a comfortable sleeping spot. Second, any screens such as tv’s, tablets and also smartphones should be forbidden in the bedroom. The light that emits from screens disrupts the production of the melatonin hormone. Lastly, the quality of sleep can be significantly improved when you have a standard rhythm and maintain this by sleeping at the same time, every night. You’ll automatically wake up around the same time too.

3. Food is important too

Eating the right amount of healthy foods is a basic principle of a healthy lifestyle, and also plays a definite part in the quality of your sleep. A few specific tips when it comes to food and sleep: don’t eat solid foods 2 to 3 hours before sleeping, do not drink coffee with caffeine at night, and lastly do not consume alcohol right before sleeping. Besides these specific tips about food and sleep quality, it is important to maintain a healthy diet throughout the day for proper energy maintenance.

If you’re having a hard time getting all the important nutrients in your meals, you can always try a Jake shake. These aren’t just tasty and quick, they also contain every essential nutrient like vitamins and minerals that your body needs in a day.

4. Upgrading your sleep with physical activity

By tiring your body with physical activity during the day, you’ll experience a better night’s rest. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, but preferably even more than that. By physical activity we mean a broad definition of exercise: like working out, but also going for a long walk or bike ride to work for example. When you’ve done sufficient activities you’ll experience a tired feeling in your body which will help you fall asleep quicker and sleep deeper. Either in turn helps with improving your quality of sleep and therefore life. Do mind the following: do not exercise right before sleeping. If you do so, your heart rate, body temperature and metabolism will increase significantly after working out, resulting in staring at the ceiling again. Rather exercise in the morning, afternoon or start of your evening.

5. Come down before going to bed

As logical as it may sound, a lot of people tend not to do this. They’re still on their phones and busy in their head planning their next day, right before heading to bed. Rather grab a moment of tranquility before hitting the sack. You could read a book, listen to quiet music or try doing some relaxation exercises such as sleep meditation. By doing so, you’ll give yourself enough time to relax and fall asleep faster and better.

Jake makes complete food, in shake form amongst others. Our food contains all the nutrients your body needs – quick and fast in one meal. Care to try Jake? Click here.

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7 Foods that will help you sleep like a baby

Pistachio

7 Foods that will help you sleep like a baby

Whenever I just couldn’t sleep, a glass of warm milk has been my mom’s secret weapon for my entire youth. Why? Because milk helps you sleep!

I think we can all attest to the fact that some foods seem like a no-go right before bed, and some seem to work wonders. Enough reason for me to investigate further.

Who knew that pizza can increase your chances of plummeting into a deep sleep as soon as you hit the pillow?

Pistachio
I’m listing the 7 best foods for a good night’s sleep, and we’ll get to the bottom of why they make us sleepy:

1. Cherries

The most straightforward way to induce sleepiness is to eat cherries. Cherries are a great source of naturally occurring melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your day and night cycle.

Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the centre of the brain. Production is triggered by a lack of light: at dusk and at night. In day-active animals and humans melatonin promotes sleep. On the other hand in night active animals it actually promotes activity, thus gathering its nickname ‘The Hormone Of Darkness’.

As you can imagine the melatonin our body produces is responsible for how our biological clock runs. It turns out, that ingesting additional melatonin can even fix disruptions of your biological clock, such as insomnia or a jet lag.

cherries
Tuna

2. Lean proteins

There is some truth to the Thanksgiving myth that turkey will make you sleepy. Although not as extreme as I described in the article about food coma’s, turkey and other lean protein can actually help you getting to sleep.

In nearly all lean proteins, such as fish, chicken, turkey and red meat, the essential amino acid tryptophan is present. As you might expect, an essential amino acid cannot be synthesised by the body and therefore must be part of a healthy diet. Apart from being a protein building block, tryptophan is closely involved in human sleep.

Through an enzymatic process tryptophan is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Another process converts the same serotonin to melatonin. And by now we know what melatonin is good for: a snug and a solid night of sleep.

3. Pistachio Nuts

Apart from being delicious, pistachio nuts are a very good source of vitamin B6. The vitamin is present in many more foods, such as meats or fish. The reason why pistachio nuts are my first pick is because up to 50% of vitamin B6 is lost through cooking and storage. Plant foods lose the least vitamin B6 in these processes, because they contain the most stable form of vitamin B6: pyridoxine. Animal foods contain the less stable pyridoxal and pyridoxamine.

If tryptophan and serotonin were the fuel of our sleep-engine, eating a bag of pistachio nuts would be an oil change.

Pistachio
Glass of milk

4. Milk

What our mothers told us was no lie! A glass of warm milk will actually make you sleep better.

While milk does contain the same tryptophan that is essential for the synthesis of melatonin, it comes in such small doses it will not have any noticeable effect on falling asleep. The reason why warm milk helps falling asleep doesn’t even have anything to do with the biochemical processes in our body!

The reason warm milk is so good for falling asleep, is because it’s warm. We associate warmth at the end of the day with sleep. Just imagine sitting near a fireplace or crawling under your blanket: the warmth will make you drowsy and eventually fall asleep.

Traditionally hot chocolate is a bedtime drink too, but it doesn’t work as well as milk. Chocolate milk contains high levels of xanthines, the mother of stimulants like caffeine. Of course I don’t have to tell you you shouldn’t go for a coffee before nap time.

5. Bananas

Bananas are good for inducing sleep, but not because it affects the production of certain neurotransmitters or hormones. Bananas are full of useful electrolytes, namely potassium and magnesium.

As I’ve described before in the article about muscle cramps, a specific set of minerals are very important to our muscle function: electrolytes. We’ve seen that magnesium and potassium, in particular, are responsible for the relaxation of a muscle.

Apart from being sleepy in your head, it’s equally important for your body to relax. Eat a banana and feel the relaxation flow through you.

Pizza

6. Pizza

This almost sounds too good to be true. While eating loads of pizza probably won’t get you in the best shape of your life, snatching a slice right before bed might actually send you right to your dreams.

The general consensus is that foods with a high glycemic index (GI) aren’t the healthiest. The GI represents the total rise in blood sugar level following the consumption of a food. Foods with a high GI will spike your blood sugar and then make it crash. The crash will make you hungry again, so you’ll quickly overeat. Not surprisingly, pizza has a high GI, according to Harvard scientists.

So does a blood sugar level that looks like a roller coaster help me get to sleep? Actually yes.

Researchers tested how low GI foods compared to high GI foods when consumed right before bedtime. They measured their results in the unit of Sleep Onset Latency (SOL), which is just a fancy term for how long it takes for somebody to fall asleep. Interestingly, it took candidates approximately 50% less time to fall asleep when they consumed a high GI meal before bedtime. Building on that, it turns out that the large amounts of rice (high GI) consumed in Japan are significantly associated with the good sleep that Japanese people have. High GI foods won’t get you in shape, but they might just let you enjoy some Japanese tranquillity.

7. Kiwi

Coined a superfood, the kiwi undoubtedly is more beneficial to your diet than a pizza. Recent research suggests that apart from being loaded with antioxidants, kiwis can make you fall asleep like a brick.

At Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University they specifically researched the effect of eating kiwis before going to bed. They found that eating kiwis on a daily basis was linked to significant improvements in both sleep quality and sleep quantity. It turns out eating kiwis for 4 weeks can:

– make you fall asleep up to 34% more quickly
– make you wake up 29% less when you’re supposed to be asleep
– make you feel like you’ve slept better, up to 42%
– make you sleep 13% more overall

Kiwi
While the researchers studied the effects on sleep, they didn’t map the biochemical process that caused improved sleep. Considering the fact that kiwis have one of the highest levels of serotonin, it probably has something to do with the eventual production of melatonin.

Bottom line

If there’s one thing we can agree on it’s that the body is very complex, also when it comes to sleep. While melatonin is ultimately responsible for making you sleepy, it is synthesised from several other biochemicals, such as serotonin and tryptophan. Those biochemicals are essential for the production of melatonin, as well as co-enzymes, mainly vitamin B6. If there’s another thing we can agree on it’s that this story probably isn’t the best to tell a 6-year-old when they ask you why milk makes them so sleepy.

The best advice for a solid sleep cycle is to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet and to make sure you’re getting all the essential ingredients for the production of melatonin. However, if you are in desperate need for a much needed nights sleep I recommend a pizza with tuna, filled with cherries, kiwi and banana, topped off with some pistachio nuts along with a glass of warm milk.

You can also simply order a box of Jake Shakes, to make sure you will get everything you need.