Need Better Sleep?
Start with Better Nutrition
12 min read
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Adults need around 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily, and in America, only one-third of the population manages that (yikes!). But, what causes such rampant sleep deprivation? The answer has been in front of us all along!
Sleep quality and duration affect our day-to-day function and overall health. In fact, the only other factor having as much influence over our bodily functions as sleep is nutrition. Yet, their connection is often underestimated. And in this article, we discuss just that!
Read on as we unpack the complex, two-way relation between sleep and nutrition, as well as discuss sleep hygiene tips to change your diet for healthy sleep.
Nutrition and A Good Night's Sleep: Assessing The Connection
While no one can deny the importance of a good night's rest, sleep quality and time have continued to go down in recent years. One of the principal reasons for increasing sleep problems is changing diet and sleep schedule.
For example, people eat more processed meals and adopt inconsistent eating patterns (like having late night meals) now than ever before. And with increasingly busy lifestyles, people find it challenging to incorporate all the essential nutrients needed in their diet for good health and -you guessed it- better sleep!
However, the connection between nutritional factors and sleep is layered, with diet patterns and individual metabolic and digestive functions affecting this relationship.
That said, the nutritional factors listed below have an essential role to play when it comes to sleep health.
There are several studies on the effects of a high-carb diet on sleep. While some results show that having a high-carb diet close to bedtime can reduce sleep onset, several studies relate it to insomnia.
Research also shows that having sugary drinks and high-carb food before bed can increase the number of times you wake up during the night, shortening your deep sleep episodes.
Moreover, a high-carb diet can also cause inflammation, seriously reducing sleep quality.
Amino acids form protein and have long been studied for their role in promoting more restful sleep. Research on one of the most important amino acids, tryptophan, shows that its supplementation can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Moreover, it also helps support morning-type circadian rhythm.
Another crucial amino acid, GABA, studied on individuals having trouble falling asleep, showed traits that promote quality sleep.
A diet that consists extensively of saturated fatty acids can also disrupt sleep. Studies show that consuming high amounts of saturated fats can harm heart health and be a risk factor for diabetes; diabetes has often been reversely linked with sleep wellness.
In contrast, anti-inflammatory Omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids are often linked positively with sleep, with studies supporting their consumption to elevate sleep apnea.
Vitamins are an essential nutritional factor when it comes to sleep patterns. For example, deficiency of Vitamin D (obtained mainly from natural light during the day, animal fats, or mushrooms) can elevate the risk of sleep disorders and affect how long an individual can stay asleep.
A few studies also related Vitamin C consumption with healthy sleep habits.
Food Habits To Improve Sleep Quality
People are quick to relate dietary habits to various health vices like obesity and heart disease, but not lack of sleep. In fact, most people do not even consider what they eat when they think of their wind-down routine for sleep.
Your body's production of melatonin - the hormone that intimates its time to sleep based on light exposure- and circadian rhythm can be affected by poor food choices incredibly close to bedtime.
Managing your diet and nutrition is an inexpensive way to sleep better and rid yourself of sleep debt. Why is this important? Well, consistent trouble sleeping is detrimental to your physical AND mental health.
While you can temporarily take sleep medicine to aid sleep at night, their long-term use can have side effects. On the other hand, nutritional changes are a lifestyle choice that can help fix your internal clock to sleep better. So if there are any natural tips for better sleep, healthy fixes should be top of the list.
Balance is Key
From what we now know about nutritional factors, such as carbs, proteins, and fats, and their correlation with sleep through numerous studies, it is safe to conclude that a balanced diet equals better sleep.
Including various vegetables and fruits in your diet while checking your daily intake of minerals and vitamins can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer. Wise food and supplement choices ensure you do not have any vitamin or mineral deficiency, which can cause poor sleep cycles, as per various studies.
Remember that dietary changes can affect individuals differently, so it is best to adopt a balanced diet for optimal health and a good night's sleep.
Excessive Intake of Unhealthy Foods Is a No-No
Moreover, overindulgence in unhealthy foods high in carbs, sugars, and saturated fats, can result in sleep deprivation. We know, it's a bummer! But, balance is critical and occasional treats are okay; do not make it a habit.
What You Should Know About Diets
Various plant-based and high-fiber diets, like the Mediterranean and DASH diets, have been studied to impact sleep positively. However, other diets following a balanced approach to nutrition can also have similar effects. (Whenever starting on a new diet, it is essential to consult a doctor.)
Protein Consumption Before Bed
Additionally, studies support protein supplementation for increased relaxation and sound sleep. An easy way to consume protein before hitting the bed is chugging a protein shake. However, go for plant-based protein shakes as animal-based protein can cause gastric issues.
Sleep Also Affects Diet
Interestingly, nutrition affecting sleep is not a one-way street; sleep has just as significant an impact on an individual's nutritional choices. People who sleep less not only have more food, but they also tend to go for high-calorie food. Since energy consumption is usually low for such individuals, sleep deprivation can cause obesity.
Moreover, sleep impacts our mood and daytime energy, often contributing factors to poor food choices.
Do Dietary Habits Impact Sleep Disorders?
Poor sleep cycles can sometimes be attributed to sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). An unhealthy diet can be related to OSA since it causes obesity, which is a risk factor. Thus, poor diet choices can bring on or aggravate obstructive sleep apnea. Another significant risk factor is alcohol consumption, making it hard to breathe and impossible to sleep through the night.
Winding Down Before Bed: 6 Secrets to Consistent Better Sleep
Besides getting the proper nutrition, knowing how to wind down before bed also plays a vital role in curating a healthy sleep routine. Numerous factors contribute to consistent sleep, from the right sleep environment to changing various habits before bed.
1. Put Down The Plate
Stop eating at least one (ideally three) hours before your bedtime. This allows time for digestion so your sleep won't be disrupted. However, do not go to sleep on an empty stomach, which may further hinder restful sleep. Instead, go for light snacks, preferably high in melatonin, to satiate your hunger without heaviness or trips to the restroom through the night.
2. Know What You're Drinking
Ensure you are not having caffeinated beverages before you hit the sack. In fact, research recommends avoiding caffeine at least six hours before bed to stop it from interfering with your sleep cycle.
Avoid alcohol for undisturbed sleep.
3. Put Out The Cigarette
Smoking before bed can extend the sleep onset and make it difficult for you to wake up. In addition, smokers feel the need for long daytime naps, which then further impairs the ability to catch sound sleep at night.
4. Say No To Electronic Gadgets
Say adios to electronic devices, which all emit blue light, well before you plan to fall asleep. This light signals your brain that it's daytime, thus, curbing melatonin production.
5. Relaxation Techniques
Pull down the curtains to restrict bright light, make your bed, run a warm bath, listen to soothing music, meditate to read a good book - all of this can contribute to better and consistent sleep.
Keeping your room cool or at a comfortable temperature and deep breathing can also help you wind down before bed by creating a restful environment.
6. Adaptogens For Sleep
Often fixing your diet for sleep is not enough. General stress would not let you catch some shut-eye, which is when you can turn to adaptogens. While essentially used as stress relievers, adaptogens can help you relax, sleep, and reset your body clock since stress often starts a chain reaction affecting our circadian rhythm and hormones.
You can take adaptogens in various ways, but the capsule form of herbal supplements are the easiest to follow. However, as with any supplement, follow the instructions on how much to take. A good tip is to start slowly to measure how your body reacts to them. Remember that adaptogens are not a cure for lack of sleep, but a means to relax and unwind, ultimately resulting in better sleep.
The Bottom Line
We now know that a balanced diet can significantly contribute to regular sleep. For example, avoiding large, high-carb meals before bed and opting for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals can help improve sleep quality.
Moreover, you can turn to adaptogens to kickstart your wind-down routine before sleep. If you are confused about how to incorporate adaptogens into your sleep routine, we have got you covered!
LyfeFuel’s Calm has adaptogenic mushrooms and herbs that help alleviate restlessness and calm your mind for the perfect start to a good night's sleep.
Start Your Wind Down Routine with Calm!
Disclaimer: The LYFE Fuel blog is for informational purposes only. The information does not serve as a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment. We kindly ask you not to ignore professional medical advice because of any information you’ve read on https://lyfefuel.com/. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult a physician or appropriate health care expert.