The Power of Sleep

Part of the 12 Aspects of Successful Weight Loss. 

In this blog, I will share with you why sleep should be a vital part of your plan to lose weight, but more than that, why good sleep is intrinsically linked to good health and well-being. I will share some key foods to help improve sleep and some actions you can take to ensure your body is getting the rest it needs.

If you are ‘eating less and exercising more’ yet not seeing any real results with your weight loss, you probably aren’t getting the rest you need. More than 35% of people don’t get the sleep their body needs – almost exactly the same percentage are obese and that’s no coincidence!

I recommend you plan for 8 hours rest every night. This will ensure your body has time to rejuvenate at a deep level and improve your weight loss results.

Better sleep will…

  • Improve your mood
  • Improves your memory and attention
  • Reduce inflammation (a blog on this is coming soon!)
  • Improve ability to think and process information
  • Improve performance, even your sex life 
  • Strengthens your immune system
  • Reduces chance of headaches, aches and pains

Making sleep a priority is easier said than done when there are so many demands on your time. BUT, as with all the advice in this blog, if implemented, you will see a healthier you very quickly. Here are my key points to consider when generating a sleeping pattern:

Consistency:  Keep a relatively consistent bedtime and wake time. Staying up late and sleeping in on weekends can disrupt your routine during the week.

Light: Keep your bedroom extremely dark, to tell the body’s light-sensitive clock that it’s time to sleep.

Noise: Keep the bedroom extremely quiet or use a white noise generator (such as a fan) to block out distractions.

Relaxation/routine: Develop a pre-bed routine that is relaxing and familiar.  Television, work, computer use, movies and deep/stressful discussions late at night can disrupt sleep.

Temperature: Keep a slightly cool temperature in the room, between 18-22 C.

Stimulants: Eliminate stimulants like caffeine/nicotine, especially later in the day.

Exercise: It’s not only good for a tight butt and flatter tummy, consistent exercise can help improve sleep.

Fullness: Eating a dinner that makes you overly full can disturb sleep, eating less that three hours before bed is a no no.

And then there’s nutrition! There are some key foods to improve sleep…

Most fish – and especially salmon, halibut and tuna – boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness).

When healthy sleepers ate carbohydrate-rich suppers of veggies and tomato sauce over rice, they fell asleep significantly faster at bedtime if the meal included high-glycemic-index (GI) jasmine rice rather than lower-GI long-grain rice, in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. While the authors aren’t sure how it happened, they speculated that the greater amounts of insulin triggered by the high-GI meals increased the ratio of sleep-inducing tryptophan relative to other amino acids in the blood, allowing proportionately more to get into the brain.

In a small study, melatonin-rich tart cherry juice was shown to aid sleep. When adults with chronic insomnia drank a cup of tart cherry juice twice a day they experienced some relief in the severity of their insomnia.

Bulgur, barley and other whole grains are rich in magnesium – and consuming too little magnesium may make it harder to stay asleep, reported the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.

Dairy products are well-known calcium-rich foods. But green leafy vegetables, such as kale and collards, also boast healthy doses of calcium. Research suggests that being calcium deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep. Sesame Seeds are super sources of calcium too!

Bananas, well-known for being rich in potassium, are also a good source of Vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin – a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

Chickpeas boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin.

Fortified cereals also boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin too.


  1. Review your sleeping habits and identify the causes of poor sleep quality. 
  2. Adjust your bedtime routine and surroundings to enable you to sleep better. 
  3. Remain consistent – keep these changes in place for 4 weeks to gauge their impact.