Good nutrition is essential for fueling our bodies and sustaining us through the day. It is equally important to power us down at night and positively influences our quality of sleep.
Research has shown that both, insufficient and excessive sleep is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight gain and mental health problems. So, knowing the right food to consume for optimal sleep duration, which is considered to be around 7-8 hours each night, is not just necessary – it’s key.
Below are some foods that may help you have a good nights sleep and reduce the onset of sleep disturbances.
Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant and carotenoid, which is responsible for giving many fruits and vegetables their reddish colour. A study has shown that consumption of foods containing lycopene is linked with promoting better sleep patterns. Furthermore, another study has shown that people who get, on average 7-8 hours sleep per night, tend to consume more lycopene. Lycopene can also be found in watermelon, grapefruit and sweet red peppers.
A 2016 study showed that oily fish consumption is linked with better sleep quality. It was also shown that individuals who consumed more than the recommended amount of fish had a further improvement in the quality of sleep. A healthy diet should include at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish. Examples of oily fish are tuna, mackerel and salmon. Consumption of salmon is also known to help regulate sleep cycles. It contains vitamin B6, which is involved in serotonin production.
Knowing the right food to consume for optimal sleep, which is considered to be around 7-8 hours each night, is not just necessary – it’s key.
Whilst the link between brazil nuts and sleep quality is limited, brazil nuts are excellent sources of minerals like magnesium and selenium and studies have shown the possible links between, magnesium levels and sleep regulation. Researchers demonstrated that adults with chronic sleep deprivation had low magnesium concentration. Decreased levels of selenium in adults has also been linked with very short sleep duration (less than 5hrs).
Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables contain high levels of iron, which is needed for the production of red blood cells and energy production. Low iron levels has been shown to be linked to sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome (RLS), periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) and insomnia. Individuals with RLS or PLMD will often have jerking movements during their sleep and wake up tired despite a full night’s sleep. Try and increase your intake of green leafy vegetables including; spinach, kale and pak choi.
Consuming yoghurt may help facilitate the process of melatonin production as it contains calcium and tryptophan, which are both required for this action. Melatonin is considered as the ‘sleep hormone’ and helps to regulate sleep cycles.
Researchers investigated the effect that different glycemic index (GI) of various rice options had on sleep quality. They found that those who consumed Jasmine rice (high GI) four hours before bedtime fell asleep significantly faster, compared to those who consumed a low GI option such as Mahatma rice. It was implied that the high amount of insulin produced by high-GI meals increased the ratio of sleep-inducing-amino acid tryptophan in relation to other amino acids in the blood, allowing more to get into the brain.
Consuming yoghurt may help facilitate the process of melatonin production as it contains calcium and tryptophan.
As a whole, you should aim to achieve a healthy balanced diet daily, which will provide you with key nutrients to enhance your quality of sleep. Also, make sure that your sleep environment is dark, peaceful and free from all electronic devices. Leave the phone in the office and get a good nights sleep.
Article from:Tai Ibitoye, BSc (hons), MSc, FRSPH from: www.enhlife.org
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