Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH.
One of the most underestimated factors in our overall wellness is sleep. It is vital to the entire body. We need to get a restful night of sleep in order to function properly. But why is that and what can you do to help to enhance your circadian rhythms and really support a good night's rest? Why does that matter so much? That’s what I want to talk about today: what foods and nutrients you can be incorporating into your evening routine for a restful night of sleep.†
Why is sleep so important for the body?
Sleep is incredibly vital to brain plasticity, which is the ability for the brain cells to repair and recover themselves. If we are not getting adequate sleep, then this certainly can lead to issues. People can feel sluggish or depressed. We also know that there are factors such as high blood pressure that have been linked with poor sleep quality. There are a lot of different ways in which our sleep can affect our metabolism, cardiovascular system and mental clarity. We have to make sure that we are doing everything in our power to get adequate sleep.†
When we look at the statistics, it’s really quite overwhelming. There’s roughly about 70 million Americans who have some form of a sleep disorder. There are reports that 50% of those people who have a disorder report snoring as being one of the main components to the sleep disruption. Sometimes people who snore don’t realize that they are actually waking themselves up because the snoring throws them out of their normal cycles.†
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When we look a little deeper into it, we can find that people who are not getting restful nights oftentimes will fall asleep during the day. That’s roughly 40% of people who have a sleep disorder. We know that drowsiness or falling asleep at the wheel is responsible for multiple fatalities annually in the United States. We know that insomnia and sleep apnea are major problems. I always encourage people who are experiencing disrupted sleep or problems in their sleep to have a medically evaluated sleep study done at a sleep center, where they can actually see what’s happening through those different stages of sleep.†
Learn more about the importance of good quality sleep, listen to the full podcast episode.
How to boost sleep using nutrients
What can we be doing to really make sure that our diet includes foods that have really healthy nutrients that can help to promote a healthy circadian rhythm and support those biological repairing processes that have to occur overnight?†
We want to look towards foods that have naturally-occurring melatonin, such as cherries. Cherries have a really good amount of naturally-occurring melatonin. The cherries that have a higher amount of melatonin happen to be the Montmorency tart cherries. We can also look at other things like kiwi, which is packed with vitamins and minerals. It contains these really lovely amounts that can help to promote sleep. In the evening, before bed, we can have some tart cherry juice or kiwifruit to help us sleep.†
We can also look towards fruits that have tryptophan in it. Tryptophan is this very important essential amino acid that is needed for a variety of different things that are occurring within the body. It’s very important when it comes to the neurotransmitter production of serotonin and from there, we get melatonin. By having foods that are higher in tryptophan, this may help to promote that natural process between those different neurotransmitters and then into melatonin hormone. We can look towards things like chicken, turkey, seeds, nuts and eggs.†
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If you have a lot of stress in your life, sometimes the brain has a hard time simmering down and allowing you to fall asleep. In those types of settings, it’s always advantageous to consider things like 5-HTP, which is 5-hydroxytryptophan. This is a supplement that you actually take that converts to serotonin. So if someone is having a hard time getting the brain to unwind at night, having 5-HTP on board before bed is very beneficial for many people.†
The other thing that many people overlook that plays a very critical role in the relaxation of everything in the body is magnesium. A good 50% of Americans are low in magnesium. If the vasculature and the skeletal muscles have a hard time with that proper relaxation and following that circadian rhythm, then this can also be a reason as to why one is not getting adequate sleep throughout the night. Having magnesium on board in the evening can be very beneficial.
Hear more of Amanda’s recommendations by tuning into the full podcast episode.
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