Achieving better sleep with nutrition

An adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining physical and mental health. Studies have shown that getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night can improve mood, cognitive function, and immune system function. But quality of sleep is also important. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) is important for memory consolidation and learning. The hormone melatonin plays a key role in regulating our sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to natural light during the day and avoiding screens before bed can help regulate melatonin levels and improve sleep.

What are some of the foods that may promote better sleep?

  1. Tryptophan-rich foods: Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a precursor to the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Foods that are high in tryptophan include turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds.

  2. Carbohydrates: Eating a small serving of carbohydrates before bed can help to release serotonin, which can help to promote a feeling of relaxation and calm. Good options include whole grain crackers, a small serving of whole wheat pasta, or a slice of whole-grain bread.

  3. Fruits: Bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium, and tryptophan, which can all help to promote sleep. Cherries, especially tart cherries, contain melatonin and may help to regulate sleep patterns.

  4. Herbal teas: Teas such as chamomile, lavender, and valerian root can help to promote relaxation and sleep.

What should you avoid for a better sleep?

Consuming heavy meals, or too much fat, protein, or sugar close to bedtime can disrupt sleep for several reasons:

  1. Digestion: Heavy meals close to bedtime can make it difficult for the body to properly digest food. This can lead to discomfort, indigestion, and acid reflux, which can disrupt sleep.

  2. Blood sugar: Consuming too much sugar or carbohydrates close to bedtime can cause blood sugar levels to spike, leading to energy and alertness, making it hard to fall asleep.

  3. Stimulation: Consuming too much protein or fat close to bedtime can stimulate the body and brain, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep.

  4. Hormones: Eating a high-fat or high-carb meal close to bedtime can lead to an increase in insulin, which can disrupt the balance of hormones that regulate sleep-wake cycles.

  5. Insomnia: Consuming too much sugar, caffeine, or alcohol close to bedtime can cause insomnia, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Overall, it's best to stick with a light, balanced snack that provides a balance of nutrients, such as a small serving of carbohydrates and a small serving of protein, that can help the body to relax and fall asleep.

We love this Hubermann Lab podcast on the topic of sleep:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nm1TxQj9IsQ

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