Good nutrition for better sleep

One thing I’m really interested in is nutrition and how foods impact on aspects of our health beyond the purely physical.

I’ve been dealing with insomnia on and off for a few years now, and one thing that I’ve found that really impacts on falling and staying asleep is food. I know this is not rocket science; what we eat impacts on all aspects of our lives from how we feel to how we look.

Lets not talk about the amount of times I’ve found myself with my head in the fridge at 1am. Really. Or got back from a night out and emptied my cupboards in the search of finding answers. There are definitely no answers in the fridge, believe me, i’ve tried.

Enough about that.

There are two aspects to this: the food itself and the timing of that food.

When to eat?

Eating too close to sleeping can be seriously disruptive as your body uses its energy on digesting food instead of shutting down for sleep. But on the flip side of the coin, going to sleep hungry will result in being kept awake with a growling stomach. It’s a fine balance. Research suggests either eating a larger meal around 3 hours before shut eye – or a small snack an hour or so beforehand. Again pretty simple stuff.

The science: without going into too much detail, the hormones that regulate hunger, ghrelin and leptin, are linked to sleep, and when are not properly regulated (i.e. getting too little sleep) will have a knock on effect on hunger levels the following day. Turning you into that ravenous monster that tries to eat through the tiredness, turning to convienent, high calorie, high sugary foods. It’s in our evolution, when we need energy, we turn to high fat, high sugary, basically anything that gives us a boost! Or in my case lots of coffee.

What to eat?

Foods that help to naturally boost Melatonin and Serotonin levels are the winners.

Science: It comes down to eating foods that contain the right source of nutrients to support  hormone regulation and avoiding those which cause a hinderance on hormone functioning. Melatonin regulates circadian rhytmns (sleep wake cycle) which is responsible for making you feel hungry during the day and sleepy during the night. When compromised it throws the pattern out of sync and is responsible for things such as jet lag. It can explain why you may struggle to sleep during the day regardless of being awake all night, or when you feel hungry through the night whilst suffering with jet lag. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter linked to regulating the bodily functions of sleep, appetite and mood. It is commonly thought of as making you feel good and is used to help people with low mood. Which is also linked to poor sleep. These hormones are all interconnected, which is why throwing one off can result in further knock on effects.

Melatonin: Some foods actually contain melatonin naturally such as oats, cherries and banana.

Tryptophan: A precursor to serotonin that helps to promote the production of serotonin. Dairy, eggs, turkey, walnuts, pumpkin seeds are all great sources.

There are also other nutrients that can really help your body to naturally unwind:

Magnesium: a great nutrient for relaxing! It helps your body shut down for sleep. Magnesium absorbed into the skin is actually a faster and more effective source to help your body relax, which is why magnesium salt baths are so popular. I personally like to use a magnesium spray after the gym as it really helps to relax my muscles. But you can increase your dose of magnesium through foods such as almonds, bananas, yoghurt, spinach, avocado, nuts, seeds and tofu.

Potassium: Most people think bananas which are in fact a great source of potassium, but the following have more per serving:  avocados, potatoes, salmon, apricots, and pomegranate.

My personal go to foods to help with sleep:

Oats: combined with with a source of protein to slow the release of energy, e.g. peanut butter, casein protein, oats are a good source of carbs that do not spike blood sugar levels

Bananas: Who doesn’t like bananas? With a source of protein to slow the sugar release, e.g. peanut butter (yep, addicition), greek yoghurt or nuts…

Nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts…

Cottage cheese: naturally high in casein protein, which is great for sleep

Coconut or almond milk: warmed or in a protein shake…

… And what to avoid?

Certain foods that should just be a no no:

Fat: Fatty foods are digested the slowest so unless you’re eating these a good 4 hours or so before they should probably be avoided. Research shows links between saturated fat and light, restless sleep – e.g. pre-packaged food!

Caffeine: Obvious one but it’s more than just avoiding a late night latte. Obviously coffee … but also foods that contain caffeine that you may not be aware of, such as energy/fizzy drinks, green tea, ice cream, sweets, some ‘diet’ foods, and even painkillers and decaff coffee…  and unfortunately, chocolate (especially dark chocolate)!

Alcohol: It can help you nod off initially but is linked to disrupted sleep, meaning that your body never enters the deep sleep phase that is the most rejuvinating. It can also make you sweat more and need the toilet.

Sugar Yep, the demon. It spikes and crashes blood sugar levels and can be the reason you’re feeling hungry in the middle of the night.

Of course this is based on my personal anecdotes 🙂 What foods do you eat at night?

Lianne x

Cyprus Part Two: The Greek side

cropped-cropped-cropped-screen-shot-2017-09-13-at-14-55-12.pngI adore the Greek Islands. They’re packed with history and culture and surrounded by crystal clear waters and sunshine. I mean, what’s not to love?! I spent the majority of my trip in Cyprus travelling around the South of the Island, taking road trips and eating my weight in Cypriot cheese. Bliss.

I’ve already written about the Turkish part of my trip, if you want to read about it here.

So where did I go?

Aphrodite’s Rock / Petra Tou

 

‘Sometimes, chaos and love seem like the same thing’ 

–  Aphrodite 

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Aphrodite, the ancient greek Goddess of love. Apparently if you swim around Aphrodite’s rock you gain eternal youth… I missed out on that one, but then I’m not really one to believe in myths.

This was such a photogenic place, but let’s be real, most of the Island is. The rock is grand (much bigger than I thought it would be) surrounded by a pebbled beach and those beautiful turquoise waters that in my opinion, really define the Greek Islands.

Given that it was relatively easy to find I’d definitely say this place is a must stop off point in the region. I think it’s generally one of those places to tick off the travel list and take lots of photos.

Adonis Baths

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Adonis baths are definitely a hidden gem. i.e. so hidden they feel impossible to find. To get there we trekked for what felt like hours, totally off the beaten path (there wasn’t really a path as such) and despite the signs, the road (if you can call it that!) is definitely not suitable for all cars. Although we had quite a fun road trip and finding it was part of the challenge…. driving on rocky paths, up and down the mountains and totally along the edge of the cliff!

Given the effort I think we were expecting to reach something much more impressive, so my opinion is probably clouded by that view. I have to say I felt underwhelmed. Fresh waters and an elegant surroundings maybe, but I’ve visited better waterfalls. Am I glad I visited? Yes, I think it was a pretty charming place, but would I visit again? Probably (unfortunately) not.

Would I recommend? I’m not sure. I think I would take a pragmatic view and weigh up  interest against the amount of time and effort required to get there.

Kato Paphos Archaeological Park

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A lovely heritage site full of ancient ruins and close by to Aphrodite’s Rock/Paphos. Great to see and explore, full of history.

Konnos beach, Fig Tree, Sunrise beach, Ayia Napa 

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I preface this with being totally bias in the fact that I am such a beach/sun/heat worshipper, but the beaches in Cyprus really are one of the selling points. I love exploring coastlines, swimming in the sea and just generally walking on the beach. My inner zen. Plus I’m as much partial to reading a book and sunbathing for a few hours like the next person.

The beaches were stunning. I think you’d be pushed to find a bad beach in Cyprus!

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Grabbing drinks in Ayia Napa – yep, had to be done! Also, can we just talk about the food?! OH MY GOD the food in Cyprus was amazing… I definitely ate my weight in Halloumi and drank enough red wine to sink a small ship. I mean, that’s what holidays are for, right? The mezzes though….. dips, olives, cheeses, fresh fish,  warm pitas… enough said.

Latchi and Polis

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Situated on the most western tip of the Island you’ll find Latchi and Polis. It was pretty quiet whilst we were visiting for the day which made finding the nightlife a bit tricky!  Having said that both towns were quaint and picturesque and the food was great.  We ate fish mezzes which came with about 10 different types of seafood. I think I could live on fresh fish and mezze.

In terms of area, I feel as though both are a bit up and coming and might gain popularity in years to come. I think it’s the type of place I’d love to re-visit in a decade or so to see how the area changes over time. At the moment though I’d say it’s definitely a place to visit for those wanting a more relaxed and chilled holiday.

On reflection I think what sold me was the amazing food and beaches! What do you like about Cyprus?

Lianne x

 

 

Cyprus: A Turkish delight

Photo Diary Part I: Turkish Cyprus

I visited a friend in Cyprus during the height of summer: July

Given that I could have gone anytime I’m not quite sure what went through my mind when I booked during the school holidays! Having said that I’m lucky to have a friend that lives there and knows the Island pretty well, so for the most part we avoided the over touristy places.

Aside from the Turkish and Greek divide (North and South respectively), before I visited, my knowledge of Cyprus was pretty sketchy. I learned a lot about the history and culture from just the 10 days of my trip. The Island really is bursting with culture and history, the food is amazing and the coastlines are simply stunning. The North and South offered two sides to the Island that had obvious parallels, yet felt distinct in their respective  culture, food and people. Naturally I wanted to visit as much of both North/South to see the contrast. We took a few road trips and over the 10 days managed to go from the most Eastern point of the Island, Dipkarpaz, to the most Western tip, Latchi and Polis, stopping at places such as Pan Handle, Famagusta, Aphrodite’s rock and Larnaca, as well as smaller towns and beaches.

Dipkarpaz and Pan Handle

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 09.57.55Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 09.56.3420108338_10100638970477068_8220907516191075404_n20228577_10100638967627778_3591369595280929514_nScreen Shot 2017-09-18 at 09.55.33(1-5) The coastline on the drive up was stunning and completely untouched
Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 09.54.10Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 11.08.19Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 11.08.4620121368_10159030124615084_7920451756114922200_o20116816_10159030142695084_7724376102559813199_o(6-10)  A little region called Taslica. This place had the most beautiful beaches and the most crystal clear waters
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Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 09.56.43(15-21) Pan Handle is the most western tip of the Island, and in my opinion, probably one of the most beautiful parts of Cyprus. If I was to recommend one place to see it would be a drive along this coastline –  totally untouched, secluded and charming.

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(22-25)  More Pan Handle

Famagusta: Varosha region and Ghost Town

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20106607_10100638970776468_9108888192148423897_n20106470_10100638974813378_3163185142746684996_n(4/5/6) The mezzes were amazing, totally recommend! Rouge 21 and Aspava were both great

Wish I got to explore more of this part of the Island!

Lianne x

 

 

 

Hello September.

…And just like that summer was gone

*cries into pillow*

First things first, where did the summer go!? Or rather more accurately, why did it never arrive here in the UK?

I’m having a hard time getting my head around the fact that we’re descending into the colder months… especially because traditionally, or rather in the last few years, September has been quite nice. Not this year.

Whilst I love summer and will forever be a sunshine worshipping, bikini loving, beach bum. I actually really like Autumn. Doesn’t the turn of September feel like a new year to anyone else? To me it feels like a second January.

AND I am most definitely that person that starts planning for Halloween on the first of September!

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Last year’s effort 

Anyway, here are three things that I’m looking forward to this month:

Pumpkin spiced lattes

They just scream Autumn. For me as soon as September hits I get excited about my Pumpkin spice ❤ On a general food note I’m a big fan of eating in season and with September we get fresh figs… enough said.

New TV programmes

Darker nights mean more curling up with a duvet and hot chocolate. A new series of Stranger things, Suits, Bake off… and OH! Man in the High Castle later in the year (!) More reason to drink hot chocolate and slump on the sofa after work.

Oversized everything 

There’s something quite comforting about hiding underneath oversized scarfs and knits. Because who needs abs in the winter?! Ok don’t quote me on that, I want them year round….

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This year I’m really looking forward to embracing the turn of Autumn

What are you looking forward to? Are there any new TV programmes you recommend?

Lianne x

 

Taking a step back

For the last few years it feels like my life has been running at 100mph. Whilst if I’m honest this actually works well for me because I’m definitely fast paced person, I think it’s finally time to stop. Reflect. And take stock.

2017 has literally flown by. What have I done?

It’s funny really because on the face of it I’ve done loads. I moved house, trained for a 10k, been on a few holidays as well as achieved a lot in my work/personal life. But it feels like I’ve not achieved anything. Or feels like something isn’t quite right.

It might be my impending 30th birthday next year that is seriously making me ….anxious/excited/nervous/unfulfilled and question life right now. When I was 18 I really thought that by 25 i’d be married with kids (WOW) but since that hasn’t happened I’m thinking time for a new plan. Since I’m going to be 30 next year and, well, single, I’m thinking that it’s the perfect time to create a new life plan.

I feel like I’m hitting one of those pivotal points in life where you question things and wonder about what the future holds. I definitely hit that point after I finished uni at 21, and again at 25 when I sort of embarked on a career change. I’m at that point again. I think turning 30 must evoke these feelings in people.

On the face of things life is great. I have a great job which is both interesting and offers me a unique flexibility to work on things I really enjoy. I live in a great city, in the middle of that city too, offering me abundant opportunities for my social, work and *cough* love life. I have amazing friends and family (moving away makes you have to put yourself out there when you meet people who sort of already have their friendship groups… but great as you get to meet lots of new fun and interesting people).

So what is missing? I can’t quite put my finger on it. I feel like I’ve running around like a headless chicken for the last few years and have barely taken time out to just stop and think. Sometimes the problem is that when I do stop for more than a few hours I get seriously bored?! I’m out the house Mon-Fri from early until pretty late. I go to the gym a few times a week, fill my other *free* evenings with dinners, catching up with friends, pub quizzes, etc… then the weekends are non-stop too. Not to mention trying to go home to see my family a few weekends here and there, travelling for work and exhausting myself trying to keep up with everyone!

What am I going to change?

Stopping to reflect, regularly

One thing is starting to blog.  I have been saying I want to blog for the longest time. It’s productive, cathartic and well, really helps to understand what my thoughts are. Sometimes just getting it down on paper helps to understand what I’m feeling. I’m also thinking that I can use it as an outlet. I have SO many interests that I like to talk about… travel, fitness, nutrition, health, psychology, fashion, photography… the list is endless. I also love sharing my little tid bits of knowledge with everyone – I sometimes can talk people to death about things.

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Taking time to appreciate the sun in Cyprus 

Pledging to spend more quality time with those closest to me

Instead of trying to keep up with everyone, i’m going to start saying no more. This is actually something I pledged to myself at the beginning of the year. I’ve been somewhat good at it but I could do with working it a little more! Whilst it may seem selfish, it really is more about taking time for yourself. Instead of seeing about 25 different friends once a month (and even less in some cases!) I’m going to spend more time with those I love the most.

This is a tough one for me, because ultimately I hate letting people down. And I get FOMO. But I’ve realised I can’t please everyone, and the person I have not been paying attention to is myself. Doing things I want to do. For me.

I’ve also realised that since I’ve moved around that much I’ve built up a collection of friends from different places… school, college, uni, different jobs from when I was at uni, different cities I’ve lived in, people within those different cities, work places, and the list goes on. This is both fab and detrimental. There was one point of my life where I was out for coffee, lunch, brunches, dinners, nights out about 5 days a week just to keep up, and the problem would lie in the fact that for some of those people, that *dinner/coffee/cake/cocktail night* would be their treat, but it was becoming my norm. So when people would say, ‘oh why aren’t you getting dessert?’  I’d be thinking, erm, I had one every night this week!

Over the year I’ve said no to things I would usually just squeeze into my jam packed diary, and well, I have felt GREAT. So definitely implementing this one a lot more. But beyond that, I’m going to start regularly putting time in with those that I actually want to see more ❤

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Like these girls ❤ 

Being mindful

This sounds like I’m jumping on the mindfulness bandwagon. In reality I have tried implementing mindfulness into my life for a while now. Instead of going through phases where I’m great at it and do it everyday then ultimately get sick of it and stop altogether, I’m going to start slow by taking 5 minutes a day to think of what I’m grateful for and why.

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I am DEFINITELY grateful for nature 

Being inquisitive

This applies more to career options because I think i’m fairly inquisitive as a person. I’m going to take a day every few weeks to look into career options and possibly a year out/sabbatical. This one needs more work.

TBC…

Did you suffer from a *OH GOD I’M ALMOST 30* crisis and if so, what did you do?

Lianne x