We are all aware of the benefits of magnesium for a good night’s sleep—but what about the rest of your diet? As supported by science, this is exactly what I—Olivia Arezzolo—your resident sleep specialist, will help you do today. Before I go into the specifics; let’s go to “sleep school” first:
Precursor nutrients allow sleep neurotransmitters to be produced (melatonin and serotonin), which catalyses sleepiness, relaxation, calmness and consequently, you improve sleep, wake up fresh and stop yawning in your 4pm meetings.
This is the key nutrient for sleep. With insufficient intake, you’re fatigued, irritated and even depressed. Studies like this onefound tryptophan depletion can have mood lowering consequences, especially for women. Further, the same paper reported that tryptophan supplementation, unlike comparable remedies such as sleeping tablets, does not inhibit cognitive processes (such as memory). Ideally, eat protein rich dinners—focus upon quality clean proteins such as poultry, eggs and fish such as salmon and tuna. It is available in supplement form, however it’s more readily absorbed by your body when obtained via food rather than a pill.
Helping to regulate serotonin, relax your mind and body plus reduce stress (which as you know from my last articleis critical to improve sleep); improving your intake of these nutrients allows your body to easily progress into deep, restorative rest. As published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, a high intake of omega 3 nutrients via fatty fish increased sleep length, reduced the time taken to fall asleep and consequently, enhanced daytime functionality. Where to source your omega 3s? Fish all the way. And if you’re plant-powered, go for algal oil (the oil of algae), seaweed, flax, hemp seeds and hemp protein.
Alongside being part of the B-group which supports sustained energy, B6 specifically is vital for a good night’s sleep because you need it to effectively create melatonin (as above; melatonin = sleepiness). Sources? Foods such as leafy greens, bananas, spinach, salmon, walnuts and flaxseed.
Known for its role in happiness, it is also one of the fundamental (the other being melatonin) neurotransmitters to govern our sleep. Eggs, salmon, bananas, walnuts are all high dietary sources of serotonin. Important to note here are the substances which inhibit serotonin function properly: caffeine, alcohol and stimulatory drugs. Ideally, avoid them as much as possible. Yes. All three.
As pinpointed by an article published in Advanced Nutrition, melatonin is required for optimal sleep as it facilitates the circadian rhythm. Obtain this nutrient via plant foods such as cherries, tomatoes, pomegranate, goji berries and walnuts.
To summarise: Tryptophan: Fish, eggs, poultry Omega 3: Fatty fish, algae, seaweed, hemp seeds and hemp protein, flax seeds Melatonin: Tomatoes, cherries, walnuts Vitamin B6: Bananas, spinach, salmon, walnuts and flaxseed Serotonin: Eggs, salmon, bananas, walnuts Notice fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, bananas, eggs are in almost each group? Same! It means eat as much as possible and include these foods within each and every day. What does this look like though?
Your day on a plate:
Breakfast: Green smoothie with hemp protein, bananas, eggs and spinach
Snack: Flax seed crackers with sliced banana or fresh tomato
Lunch: Poke bowl with fresh salmon and heaps of leafy greens
Snack:2 boiled eggs with 2 tbsp. walnut spread
Dinner: Grilled tuna (150g) with a seaweed & leafy green salad topped with 1 tsp chia seeds
Make sure you keep up the h2o throughout the day—it’s key to blood circulation which is fundamental to mental clarity, energy levels and curbing hunger. Aim for 500ml with prior to each meal; and use an app (e.g. Daily Water) to remind you if you tend to forget. Need help sleeping? Sign up for Olivia’s FREE 21 Days of Sleep Tips Series, highlighting a sample of the physiological, psychological and nutritional changes you can make tonight to improve your energy levels, mood and concentration tomorrow. Or, email Olivia at [email protected] to find out more about her bespoke online program, The Sleep Solution, and how it can transform your sleep, and restore you to your best self—inside and out.