The Sleep Diet for 2018
There are two things millennials, and most weary Londoners, can say with absolute certainty: they love their food, and they love their sleep.
It’s no real surprise that in 2018, our priorities are turned towards properly balancing our work and social lives, and all-round self-improvement, and we feel the need to focus intently on our eating and sleeping habits in order to do so. Perhaps a New Year’s resolution not just to “treat yo self”, but rather to “treat yourself right”, it becomes apparent that we need to take responsibility for cleaner eating and proper sleeping to put us on the path to a healthier life.
This is precisely what was addressed at Eve Sleep’s The Sleep Suite; a five-day takeover of De Montfort Suite at the Town Hall Hotel and Apartments in Bethnal Green, between the 29th of January and the 2nd of February where Londoners had the chance refocus their lost attention on the importance and need for good sleep. With a series of events happening both in the mornings and evenings, during which time debate, advice from top-notch sleep experts and influencers, and discussion pertaining to good sleeping habits was rife, it was the perfect place to start the journey towards quality slumber, and consequentially better days.
I was particularly intrigued by the notion of marrying eating and sleeping habits, and so I went to the event titled “How to Eat Well to Sleep Well” – the topic of Monday evening’s panel discussion hosted by Pip McCormac, who is the Lifestyle Director and author of Red and ELLE Decoration Magazine. Joining him on the couch was sleep expert Christine Hansen, cookbook queen Mira Manek, nutritionist Emily and personal trainer Hannah of Twice The Health fitness blog, and Kuba Wieczorek, the co-founder and chief brand officer of Eve itself!
I was welcomed to the event with the offer of a glass of champagne, but opted instead for some lemonade (it was a struggle to refuse a glass of bubbly, but it was a Monday evening after all) before settling down into the elegantly designed suite. It starred an Eve bed and mattress at the front, and a range of Eve sleep-related accessories such as linen, pyjamas and pillows on the side to really set the scene of sleep. In the middle was a plush couch to seat the speakers, and opposite it rows of chairs for the audience members. Little time was wasted, and we promptly dove right into the discussion.
The hour-long talk proved to be an eye-opening experience; of course I knew that my sleep and eating habits were fundamental to the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, but I never realised how closely the two worked with each other (and how much my “normal routine” was interfering with its interplay) to influence my life in general. The Eve Sleep mantra is that preparation for a great day starts the night before, and I quickly realised the essence of this belief cannot be truer.
I learnt from the ladies of Twice The Health that doing intense exercise right before sleep can be detrimental to its quality; whilst your body might be tired and exhausted enough to crash, the release of endorphins and adrenaline can keep your mind active and awake for much longer than necessary, meaning that it’s harder to switch off the mind and drift away to dreamland. Emily and Hannah instead suggested some light exercise in the form of a leisurely walk, bedtime yoga or even some quick pre-sleep stretches to calm the body and mind before succumbing to slumber.
I learnt from Christine, author of the insanely successful book Sleep Like A Boss, that coffee is not your foe, but rather your friend, when it comes to power napping. Drinking a small-to-medium sized cup of coffee and immediately napping for 20 to 30 minutes can prove to be phenomenal in waking you up and leaving you refreshed. This is because caffeine takes roughly 20 minutes in our body’s system to kick in, and pairing this with an energising nap would mean that our productivity would soar if this combination is used correctly. Try not to sleep for more than the recommended half an hour, as this may negatively impact your waking productivity as a result.
I learnt from Mira, who looks to her Indian roots for inspiration on how to use the healing power of spices correctly to induce sleep, that a luxurious bedtime drink of saffron (known for its abilities to calm insomniacs) and turmeric milk, or a gentle tea brewed with cardamom, fennel seeds, ginger or cloves for the ultimate calming sensation to lull us to sleep. Avoid sugary foods and beverages as they act as stimulants, and opt instead for complex carbohydrates (steer clear of white bread!) or healthy fats in the form of avocados or nuts as a pre-sleep snack, to nutritionally benefit our bodies and calm us to a quality night in bed.
All in all, as Kuba so rightly said, it comes down to finding what works for you and what you like, both in terms of diet and in how you design your bedroom and personal space, to really help you wind down and relax for bed. The effort needs to be on our own selves to focus on the interplay of food and sleep, and make conscious decisions towards improving them both to get the recommended eight hours a night to set us on track for a great day ahead.
Questions from the audience (one that stuck with me was the definite no-no regarding alcohol before sleep!) were answered with much detail and care, it really put our minds at ease. We concluded with a rapid-fire recipe round for quick and nutritious recipes, and deduced that a handful of dates and almonds, a mashed banana on brown bread toast (with a light dusting of cinnamon), a small bowl of porridge with a drizzle of honey, or a glass of warm saffron milk (Mira swears by this!) are the ideal slumber snacks to put us on track for a great night.
That’s the way to eat (to sleep).