How Lacking in Just Two Hours Sleep Can Affect Your Mood, According to Research

Feeling as though you’ve ‘woken up on the wrong side of the bed’ and the hustle and bustle of your commute is more of a bug-bare than normal? If you get even a couple of hours less sleep than usual, then this could be a reason why you’re feeling more grumpy, according to research from the Iowa State University.

To prevent feeling cranky and having a ‘shorter fuse’ try and include these health tips into your daily routine, to help you get a fulfilling night’s sleep…

1. Night sweats are not to be ignored

If you find yourself waking with night sweats you want to be clear whether you have woken because you are sweating, or if you have woken up and then started to sweat. If the sweat wakes you up then you may be having a menopausal night sweat and should look into ways of reducing this, such as eating healthy foods little and often. However, if you wake and then you start to sweat, or get other symptoms like palpitations, or just feel wide awake then this is most likely caused by an adrenaline surge because your blood sugar has dropped during the night.

“It’s important to keep your blood sugar in balance during the day. One way you can help do this is by having a small snack of complex carbohydrates, such as an oatcake, half a slice of wheat or rye bread, about an hour before bed. This will stop your blood sugar dropping overnight, and prevent adrenaline from being released into your bloodstream and causing you to wake,” recommends Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of The Natural Health Bible for Women.

2. Is your gut health preventing your snoozing time?

The beneficial bacteria in the gut work hard to produce and regulate hormones and neurotransmitters that can help to keep you feeling calm and relaxed. Your gut microbes can even lower levels of cortisol, the notorious stress hormone that rears its head in times of anxiety and can keep you awake and feeling anxious. Your good bacteria, when given the right environment and food (such prebiotics and fibre) also produce GABA, a calming amino acid that is crucial for restorative deep sleep.

Sleep-wake cycles are largely regulated by melatonin, a hormone produced by your brain’s pineal gland in response to changing light each day. As darkness begins to fall, the pineal gland secretes melatonin, which makes you start to feel sleepy. Levels of this hormone stay relatively high throughout the night while you sleep, and then drop off again as light emerges in the morning, easing you into wakefulness.

“Balanced microbiota in your gut can boost your body’s supply of melatonin, by increasing your blood levels of tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to melatonin that can keep your sleep-wake cycles in sync. Tryptophan also converts to serotonin in the body. Studies show that a deficiency of serotonin disrupts sleep-wake cycles, so having plenty of gut microbes to maintain steady levels of tryptophan in the body leads to more serotonin and a better sleep,” explains Accredited Nutritionist MSc/BSc at sense, Dimitra Sentelidou.

3. Take note of timings

Keep to a sleep routine, if possible setting your alarm to wake you up at the same time each day, regardless of the time you finally fall asleep. It is also a good idea to TRY and be in bed by 10pm – although this is not always easy!

4. Use relaxation or visualisation techniques

If you find that your mind will not shut off then you need to retrain it to calm down as you go to bed. Sometimes the easiest way to do this, especially if you have an active mind, or are a ‘worrier’, is to get your mind to think of something else. Take yourself off to a wonderful beach, or a beautiful garden, and let all your senses become involved. Hear the sounds on that beach, smell the flowers in the garden, feel the sand through your toes, picture the blue sky and really make the place come alive. Each night that you do this, you will find that the time it takes to go to sleep will get shorter and shorter because going to this beautiful place signals to your brain that this is the time for sleep.

5. Stay clear of a restful night’s sleep by eating broccoli

Why not make it part of your new years resolution to include sleep-friendly foods in your diet? Steamed broccoli is packed with B vitamins, which are essential to support your brain health. Broccoli is also rich in tryptophan, which as mentioned above, converts to serotonin in the body.

6. Soothing smells

When you go to bed feeling relaxed you’re more likely to fall asleep easily and quickly. Dr Marilyn Glenville suggests incorporating scented oils into your bedtime routine. “Try using aromatherapy oils such as bergamot, lavender, roman chamomile and marjoram in a warm bath, just before bed. A few drops of lavender oil on your pillow at bedtime can also help.”

7. Up your magnesium

Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ as it helps to relax our muscles, which in turn can help us fall into a peaceful sleep. “Try and include plenty of magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, fish and leafy green vegetables. I’d also recommend taking KalmAssure Magnesium Powder, by Natures Plus (£24.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk). This is a naturally chelated magnesium which means it is very easy to absorb and easily delivered to the tissues,” explains Nutritionist Cassandra Barns.

8. Write things down

“Write down what you need to do the next day at least an hour before bed. The aim is to stop the dialogue in your head which can end up stopping you from getting off to sleep, or else waking you up in the middle of night remembering something that has to be done the next day,” advises Dr. Marilyn Glenville.

9. Cut out the night cap

You might think that enjoying a glass of wine before bed is one of the easiest ways to get to the land of nod, but it could actually leave you waking up feeling less than refreshed. Dr. Marilyn Glenville explains, “Avoid alcohol. Not only does it affect blood sugar levels causing adrenaline and cortisol to be released, but it also blocks the transport of tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan is important because it is converted into serotonin, the calming and relaxing neurotransmitter.”

10. Keep your bedroom comfortable and restful

Pay attention to the temperature in your room and make sure it’s not too warm and not too cold. Cooler is better than warmer. Keep the room restful: a quiet, dark, cool environment sends signals to your brain that it is time to wind down. Invest in a good bed: If your bed or mattress is uncomfortable or more than ten years old it may need replacing.

Wassana Lampech

Wassana Lampech is a medical technology graduate and a freelance writer. She has been writing since her college days, and has been a freelance writer for the past 4 years. You can follow her on Twitter here: @wassmam

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