3 Ways to improve your sleep
Cultivating a daily mobility practice unlocks soft tissues, improves positional capacity and helps prevent and recover from injury. But an overlooked benefit is that it can also help you improve parasympathetic (aka “rest and digest” – the opposite of the high alert “fight or flight” sympathetic state) recovery. Foam rolling soft tissues excites nerve bundles, causing the nerves to send a “relax” signal to the muscles, fascia, ligaments and tendons. Light stretching and mobility exercises can also help with this.
Get Some Zinc and Magnesium
Athletes have long used Epsom salts in their bath to aid recovery. The secret? High levels of magnesium that help reduce muscle soreness. Bonus: magnesium also promotes restful sleep. You can also eat some magnesium rich foods during the evening – nut butter on toast, a salad with dark leafy greens, and bananas are all a good bet.
Night time magnesium intake is even more effective when paired with zinc. This mineral is believed to reduce the incidence and duration of colds, but also plays a role in rest and recovery. Zinc-rich foods include citrus fruits, pumpkin seeds (which are also high in magnesium), and, if you’re not drinking it too close to bedtime, hot chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa. If you’re in a pinch, you could also try taking ZMA. This formula also contains vitamin B6, which can trigger the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which in turn boosts sleep-inducing melatonin.
Shut Down Sensory Stimulation
When our senses of sight and sound are excited, it can be harder to fall asleep. That’s why it’s a good idea to shut down your tablet, TV and phone a couple of hours before bed. The blue light emitted by these devices interferes with melatonin production, making it harder to fall and stay asleep. If you have to finish a late night work project or are cramming for a school test, install the “f.lux app” on your device. It automatically alters the display to warmer tones that don’t disrupt sleep. Most Apple devices also have a night time shift button on them, this will turn your phone screen a mellow sunset colour.
High tempo music can also over-stimulate you in the evening, so go with something down tempo like the appropriately titled “sleep”.