Why is sleep so important? 

Sleep is an important part of your overall health and well-being. When you sleep, your body is able to repair and regenerate tissues, build bone and muscle, and produce hormones. Sleep is also important for your mental health, as it helps you to process and consolidate memories, and can even help to boost your mood.

Lack of sleep can have a number of negative effects on your body and mind. It can make you feel tired and irritable, and can also affect your concentration, memory, and ability to learn. Chronic sleep deprivation has even been linked to a number of serious health problems.

It’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night to maintain optimal health. If you’re having trouble sleeping, there are a number of things you can try to improve your sleep habits, such as establishing a regular sleep routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and creating a comfortable sleep environment.

There are a few things you can try when it comes to improving your sleep through your diet:

  1. Eat more foods that contain tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin, a hormone that plays a role in sleep. Foods that are high in tryptophan include poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, and soy. It can also be found in some natural sleep aids. 
  2. Avoid eating large meals before bedtime. When you eat a lot of food before going to bed, your body has to work harder to digest it, which can make it harder to fall asleep.
  3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. Both caffeine and alcohol are stimulants, which can disrupt your sleep. It’s best to avoid them for at least a few hours before you go to bed.
  4. Eat more foods that are high in calcium and magnesium. These minerals help your body relax, which can make it easier to fall asleep. Foods that are high in calcium and magnesium include leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. If you find it challenging to meet your daily intake of these minerals, ou may want to consider adding a dietary supplement to your routine.                                                                                          
  5. Try eating a small snack before bedtime. A small, carb-rich snack like a piece of fruit or a few crackers can help you relax and fall asleep more easily.

If you continue to have trouble sleeping, it may be a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional.

References

  1. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. (2020, August 13). Sleep and your health. MedlinePlus., Retrieved from
    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000871.htm
  2. Afaghi, A., O’Connor, H., & Chow, C. M. (2007). High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(2), 426–430.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17284739/
  3. “Better Sleep for a Better You.” Sleep Foundation, 13 July 2022, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/. 
  4. Eugene, A., & Masiak, J. (2018). The Neuroprotective Aspects of Sleep. MEDTube Science, 3(1), 35–40., Retrieved from
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651462/
  5. Jenkins, T., Nguyen, J., Polglaze, K., & Bertrand, P. (2016). Influence of tryptophan and serotonin on mood and cognition with a possible role of the gut-brain axis. Nutrients, 8(1), 56.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26805875/
  6. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. (2021, April 21). Are you getting enough sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention., Retrieved from
    https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/features/getting-enough-sleep.html
  7. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Sleep deprivation and deficiency., Retrieved August 20, 2020, from
    https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency
  8. Rasch, B., & Born, J. (2013). About Sleep’s Role in Memory. Physiological Reviews, 93(2), 681–766., Retrieved from
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768102/
  9. Richard, D. M., Dawes, M. A., Mathias, C. W., Acheson, A., Hill-Kapturczak, N., & Dougherty, D. M. (2009). L-Tryptophan: Basic metabolic functions, behavioral research and therapeutic indications. International Journal Of Tryptophan Research, 2, 45–60.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20651948/
  10. Schwab, R. J. (2020, June). Merck Manual Consumer Version: Overview of Sleep., Retrieved from
    https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/sleep-disorders/overview-of-sleep

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