No sleep? No sweat - tips to help you snooze through summer
Glasses that steam up as you step outside, clammy clothes sticking to your back, getting into a car that could double as an industrial oven - just a few symptoms of the long, harsh UAE summer.
For many, little sleep during seemingly-endless sweaty nights is also a symptom and can leave you feeling depressed.
However, there are simple ways to tackle the issue before it becomes too much of a problem, says leading nutritionist Patrick Holford.
He explains: “As you start to wind down in the evening, your serotonin levels rise and adrenaline levels fall.
“When it is dark outside, melatonin also kicks in which helps to control your sleep-awake cycle. Serotonin and melatonin are made from 5-HTP, a natural amino acid present in most protein foods. Boosting the levels of
5-HTP by taking it as a supplement can benefit some people.”
If you are going to take it, Holford advises, take 100 to 200mg half-an-hour before bed, on an empty stomach.
“Other nutrients that help you get to sleep are magnesium.” Take a look at these helpful hints that will help you get a good night’s rest:
What you eat can help your body be more receptive to sleep, according to nutritionist Lorna Driver-Davies.
She suggests eating pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark-green vegetables and cherries.
“Pumpkin seeds are rich in amino acids, which are required to help manufacture melatonin, the sleep inducing hormone,” she says. “Essential fats found in pumpkin seeds and other seeds are also helpful for improving metabolism. Take a handful before bed.”
Nuts and dark-green vegetables, she says, are all rich in the mineral magnesium, which is known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and commonly used as a sleep aid. Cherries also contain small amounts of the hormone melatonin.
An inability to sleep can often be associated with fluctuating blood sugar levels as it’s common for people to struggle to sleep when these fall, says Alli Godbold, a nutritional therapist and author of ‘Feed Your Health’. “To prevent this problem, sugar and refined carbohydrates should be avoided as far as possible.
It’s also a good idea to cut back on stimulants such as coffee, tea, cola, chocolate and alcohol and keep them to a minimum in the evening.”
Not tired enough
If you haven’t burned enough energy throughout the day, it’s likely that you’ll find it hard to nod off at bedtime but a daily work-out could be the answer.
“You can give yourself a work-out at home without spending a penny on expensive equipment,” says Justin Way, personal trainer with Pure Gym.
“Doing the housework is the perfect opportunity to flex your muscles. When vacuuming, stand on your left leg while pushing and pulling the vacuum around with your right arm. Hop to move around the room and alternate legs every two minutes. This will work the core while toning the legs and bum.”
Nocturnal muscle cramp is a common complaint for women. It causes distress and disrupts sleep. “People often aren’t aware that they could be suffering from a sleep condition that is easy to treat,” says Dr Guy Meadows, an insomnia specialist.
“Instead of worrying about the problem, it’s important to trust your body’s ability to sleep, making lifestyle changes or taking treatments where appropriate.” However, if all else fails, do consult your doctor.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) can vary in severity and causes an irresistible inclination to move your legs. It can cause discomfort in the feet, calves and thighs and, in many cases, the condition can be distressing and disruptive and affect daily activities, including sleep. Acupuncturist Rachel Peckham says that many people suffer “sleep disorders of some kind - generally attributed to a stressful lifestyle - and RLS is a common problem”. She recommends acupuncture to calm the nervous system. A knock-on advantage is that it may
also boost hormonal outputs by increasing endorphin production.