You are staying at home, getting more sleep doing less than normal but feel more tired – how can that be? You might even be getting more sleep but still you feel like you could do with an afternoon nap. During this period of isolation, I’m sure many people are experiencing this but why? And more importantly what can we do about it?
Some of the causes of this can include not enough daylight exposure, higher levels of stress and anxiety draining our nutrient reserves, too much sugar, junk food and alcohol (because we deserve it… right) and we aren’t getting enough social interaction.
Daylight exposure, blue lights and darkness. In order to get a good night’s rest we need to produce the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is produced from the amino acid tryptophan; tryptophan is firstly converted into serotonin which is converted into melatonin as daylight turns to darkness. Without regular exposure to natural daylight this process can be inhibited which leads to a reduced conversion (this can also be one of the causes for poor sleep if you work in an office with limited natural daylight). Furthermore; blue light exposure – the use of your mobile phone, I-pad or other device before bed stops this conversion. Without sufficient amounts of melatonin you can experience interrupted sleep or just overall poor sleep quality.
Here are my 3 tips to help your energy during isolation.
Tip 1 – get outside, this can be exercising or just sitting in in the garden.
You need the building blocks to make melatonin. As I’ve already said we need tryptophan from our diet to produce melatonin but alongside this we need most of the B vitamins, iron, zinc, vitamin C & D.
Tip 2 – get your protein & co-factors
Tryptophan rich foods include poultry, dairy, chickpeas, sunflower & pumpkin seeds.
To convert tryptophan to serotonin you will need to eat folate and B6 from dark green leaves, beets, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, carrots & sweet potatoes.
As well as the above you will also need B12, zinc and magnesium to convert serotonin to melatonin.
B12 is mainly found in animal proteins but you can also get B12 in many fortified plant-based foods. Magnesium from vegetables, dark green leaves, nuts & seeds. Zinc from nuts, seeds, beans, pulses and whole grains.
Tip 3 – actively work to manage your stress levels.
Managing your stress level during isolation is key. Stress not only raises cortisol and adrenaline, but it also uses up essential nutrients including B vitamins and magnesium. These nutrients are also needed to produce energy. So, stress not only impacts on your sleep but also on your energy production making the lack of sleep feel worse.
You can do this by staying positive (I know not as easy as it sounds) but positivity is a learnt behaviour. If you practice being positive your will be more positive. Take time to relax you can practice yoga, meditate or even take a relaxing Epsom/magnesium salt bath this offer you the double benefit of a nice warm bath along with helping to increase your magnesium levels.