It's a principle that seems so simple it can't
possibly work, but our sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan says
eating eight almonds and two dates when you wake up could be all it
takes to help you sleep better and slim down.


Providing the right balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate
when you wake in the morning, it is the perfect combination to
kick-start the day - and great for those who don't have time for a
sit down breakfast.


Eight almonds and two dates offer around 150-200 calories and
will fire up your metabolism, stabilise your blood sugar, stop you
reaching for the coffee and help your body produce vital melatonin
later in the evening to help you sleep.


Dr Nerina is adamant that eating breakfast is vital - and not as
hard as it sounds. She explains:  "Eight almonds and two dates
is a brilliant start to the day for anyone as they wake up, but as
a tiny portion that fits into the palm of your hand, it is the
perfect breakfast solution for those that find it difficult to eat
when they've just gotten out of bed.


"Believe it or not, eating breakfast can help you sleep.
 It's as simple as this; if you don't have breakfast, your
body believes it is living in famine and produces stress hormones
that are not conducive to restful sleep. But by eating breakfast,
you're letting your body know there is enough food and you are
living in safety, which in turn switches on your sleep/energy
systems.


"What's more, eating breakfast can help you lose weight by
speeding your metabolism up by 10 per cent.  It has a
'thermogenic' effect that can last hours after eating.  Think
of it like putting fuel into a fire and getting a bigger fire."


In addition to a great breakfast, Dr Nerina has compiled some
top tips to ensure you get a great night's rest:


Eat and drink to sleep


A protein-rich breakfast eaten within 30 minutes
of rising will help you produce more melatonin at night so you fall
asleep more easily. Eating foods such as chicken, cheese, tofu,
tuna, nuts, seeds and milk will also help to boost these hormone
levels. Also remember to aim to drink two litres of water every day
and stay off the caffeine.


The electronic sundown


Stay off technology 60-90 minutes before you get
into bed; your descent into deep sleep will be quicker and more
effortless. Your bedroom needs to be a personal sanctuary. Try and
switch off as soon as you leave work and never bring your work life
into the bedroom.


Stop checking the time


If you're anxious about how much sleep you're
getting, avoid checking the time. This will just make the anxiety
worse. To sleep well we almost need to let go of wanting to sleep
well. In other words, the more pressure we put on ourselves to
sleep, the less likely we are to actually fall asleep. In these
situations it might be helpful not to use the word 'sleep' but
replace it with the word 'rest'.


Exercise


Regular exercise is one of the most effective
ways of reducing stress hormone levels (mainly adrenaline) thus
enabling you to sleep more deeply. This doesn't have to be a 10k
run; something a simple as a 20 minute walk outdoors is enough to
reduce your stress levels.


Early to bed


At least four nights a week, aim to be in bed by
10.30pm.  You don't need to be asleep but at least resting.
 Reading a book, or listening to calming music or meditation.
 Not on your phone or laptop. Your waistline will thank
you!


For more information and sleep tips check out Dr Nerina's
toolkit
!