#2 Sleep Series - food & nutrition
Getting enough sleep is as important for your body as eating right, exercising, and practicing good dental hygiene. What you eat affects your health, your mood and how well you sleep.
In a previous article we looked at the first step towards improving your sleep i.e. Circadian rhythm and Good sleep hygiene – this is the foundation and an inexpensive solution.
Here’s the link to the previous newsletter where you can read more about circadian rhythm, blue light and importance of sunshine.
Once you’re happy that you’ve taken care of your sleep hygiene, then consider your food and nutritional choices.
Adding sleep-inducing nutrients from food is an easy, natural way to help with sleep. Then, depending on your sleep issues, you may need to add additional supplementation.
Here’s a reminder why sleep is so important.
- Cells repair and renew – think beauty sleep.
- Liver detoxification happens - between 1am & 3 am.
- Hormones and neurotransmitters are regulated.
- Poor sleep lowers leptin and increases ghrelin (making you hungrier) – and makes it harder to lose weight.
- Blood sugar stabilises. Without enough sleep, you can start to crave sugar, carbohydrates, and coffee in the morning, increase risk of elevated blood sugars, weight gain and diabetes type 2.
- Your adrenals repair and restore – without rest they produce too much cortisol and can cause an array of health issues. Here’s a blog post on addressing your adrenal fatigue.
Top 3 Nutrients For Better Sleep
You need these key nutrients to produce the hormones that will help calm you down and get you sleeping better.
1. Melatonin is the hormone which helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
Near bedtime, it naturally increases to help you sleep. In the morning before waking, production tapers off to allow you to be awake and alert for the day.
It’s made from a hormone called serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ – found naturally in the brain and digestive tract.
Melatonin regulates our daily sleep-wake cycles and keeps our 24-hour circadian rhythms in sync. When melatonin levels are low, or disrupted, that has a significant impact on sleep.
Did you know that melatonin also plays a widespread role in protecting your health, as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting hormone.
Food that is high in melatonin includes porridge oats, sour cherries (e.g. as the juice concentrate Cherry Active), bananas, peanuts, grape skins, walnuts, and liquorice. It is also concentrated in herbs such as St John’s wort, sage, and feverfew.
Avoiding caffeine - after midday, is a no brainer because caffeine suppresses melatonin for up to ten hours.
Simply put, increasing your melatonin levels could help you sleep better.
Daily intake – 3mg taken in the evening before bed.
Avoid all ‘blue light’ from screens as this disrupts production of melatonin.
2. MAGNESIUM - is a key mineral, essential for many aspects of your health. It plays a huge role in improving sleep quality. Magnesium is often referred to as ‘nature’s valium’.
Magnesium helps to activate neurotransmitters responsible for calming the body and mind, and is necessary for the production of serotonin and ultimately melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep/wake cycles.
Being highly stressed or eating a lot of sugar, lowers your magnesium levels.
In addition, it's also essential for the function of more than 300 enzymes in the body, supporting energy production, managing PMS symptoms, reducing anxiety, migraines and even addressing constipation.
Magnesium is found in nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, and leafy greens. and seafood.
Magnesium works in tandem with calcium.
Try supplementing 600mg of calcium and 400mg of magnesium before bed.
3. TRYPTOPHAN - is a natural precursor to the crucial neurotransmitter serotonin and research has confirmed lower serotonin levels can lead to sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, weight gain, and other health problems.
Tryptophan must be absorbed through your diet, as it cannot be produced in your body.
It’s found in turkey, oats and salmon is required by the body in the production of hormones serotonin (aka our happy hormone) and melatonin, (aka our sleep hormone).
The Recommended Daily Intake is 350-400mg
Sleep-inducing foods that are known to encourage sleep because of the nutrients they contain:-
Contain a mix of calcium, potassium, magnesium, tryptophan, and B6. Try these in the evening to help you fall and stay asleep:
Fish – Vitamin B6 is abundant in fish e.g., salmon, tuna, B6 is needed to make melatonin.
Kale & Yogurt – Rich in calcium that helps process the hormones that help you sleep, i.e. tryptophan and melatonin.
Bananas – are high in potassium to help you stay asleep and contains tryptophan and magnesium which are natural sedatives.
Chicken, turkey, Nuts & Seeds – like walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Help to boost serotonin levels due to high magnesium and tryptophan.
Nuts and seeds all contain tryptophan and can help more melatonin be produced.
When sleep is miserable - so is everything else.
Sleep problems affect more than 50% of women, especially with the changing hormones during midlife - either difficulty falling asleep, night waking or chronic insomnia.
Are you experiencing this?
There are usually several factors at play - and it's essential to get personalised support.
If you’re interested in learning more about working with me, schedule a FREE 20 minute Health Strategy Session now - email me [email protected]
During this session we’ll discuss your vision for your health, some of the obstacles that stand in your way, and how I can help you sleep better or any other health issues so that you can start to feel your best.
You can also go here to find out more about working with me - Work with Sue
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