At last British Summer Time is here and sunbeams are helping us get out of bed in the morning. For lots of us though, 8 hours of sleep has become a luxury over the past few years. But does lack of sleep impact negatively on inflammatory conditions?
Let’s look at the science
Melatonin is nicknamed the sleep hormone, the main job of melatonin is regulating our sleep and wake cycles. Under normal conditions melatonin levels are low during the day and rise at night, peaking around 2am to 4am.
Changes in melatonin production may be important in psoriasis because as well as regulating when we fall asleep and wake up, melatonin acts as an antioxidant, and influences immune function and levels of inflammation.
Studies show that people with psoriasis tend to have trouble sleeping, which can exacerbate inflammation, so it’s worthwhile thinking about how to influence melatonin naturally.
Can melatonin be found in food?
Melatonin in foods is hard to measure, but tomatoes, barley, olive oil, rice and walnuts contain notable amounts, all foods found in an anti-inflammatory diet.
In one study, juice from tropical fruits–pineapple, orange and bananas, significantly increased melatonin production and antioxidant levels.
In some studies, the amount of omega–3 also appears important for melatonin production, so getting plenty of oily fish may be helpful too.
Top 5 tips for better sleep
- Natural light: natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your natural circadian rhythms healthy. So snap up a seat by the window and make sure you get that lunchtime walk in whenever you can. This can improve daytime energy as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration.
- Artificial light: having a laptop on late at night or looking at your phone in bed can reduce melatonin release. So turn off all digital screens at least an hour or two before bed–you might even find you finish that book beside your bed at long last!
- Caffeine: drinking tea or coffee late in the day may stimulate your nervous system and prevent sleep. In one study, consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bed reduced sleep quality. So a “no caffeine after 3pm” rule is a good one to stick to! Even better, you can try our relaxing ginger and turmeric tea before bed instead, a warm milky drink before bed can be relaxing and turmeric is a well known anti-inflammatory ingredient.
- Relaxation: breathing exercises, yoga and meditation can increase melatonin levels and assist sleep. Or why not bribe your partner for a relaxing massage in bed, studies show that it can help improve sleep too!
- Exercise: light to moderate exercise is a scientifically proven way to reduce inflammation and improve the quality and length of sleep. But try to exercise a few hours before bed, so your body has time to wind down and prepare for sleep