I have spent the last couple of weeks discussing what affects sleep and things you can do to help improve your sleep, but we haven’t yet tackled what you can do nutritionally to help your sleep. Food and sleep can go hand in hand.
There are foods that can help contribute to better sleep but there is also a nutritional approach too that can help. But first, let’s talk about some of the foods.
Almonds are rich in magnesium. If you are low in magnesium, it can make sleep difficult.
Walnuts are a source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin. Melatonin plays a significant role in initiating the sleep cycle in our bodies and can help to improve your sleep.
Cherry Juice also boosts melatonin levels, particularly if they are tart.
Chamomile tea is a relaxant and a mild sedative. By helping relax your nerves and muscles, it can help contribute to better sleep.
Leafy greens contain calcium which supports production of tryptophan and ultimately production of melatonin.
Elk has twice the amount of tryptophan that turkey has offering a much better opportunity to improve your sleep. If you pair it with carbs, it increases the affects on your brain, improving your chances of better sleep even further.
Chickpeas are also a good source of tryptophan.
Crustaceans are high in tryptophan as well.
Tuna, salmon and halibut are high in B6 which contributes to melatonin production.
Kiwi, high in serotonin and folate which also contribute to sleep. Eating it at least 2 hours prior to bed is best.
Fiber helps with slow wave sleep and prevents the blood sugar rollercoaster which can lower your melatonin levels.
Bananas are high in B6 which also help with melatonin production.
I did mention above that there is a nutritional approach besides this list of foods that can help.
I would like to talk a little bit about that now.
If you are having trouble sleeping it could because you are having blood sugar drops during the night.
When your blood sugar drops, your cortisol production is increased to compensate. It has been shown that eating a higher glycemic index meal 4 hours before bedtime. I know, this seems completely contrary to what I teach or counterintuitive from a Paleo perspective however, if you do struggle with sleep, it might be worth a try.
If you are struggling, try to load your protein intake earlier in the day and your carb intake later in the day.
The protein does take a good amount of energy to digest and it could be that the amount of energy required is enough to keep you awake at night. Moving your carbs to the evening doesn’t mean you are overloading on carbs, you still want to make sure they are within reasons but if you do have troubles sleeping, it might be a good idea to try this. Eating a plain sweet potato or a plain white potato before bed can help keep your blood sugar level while you sleep.
And, if you are on a low carb diet, focusing your carbs later in the day can help with sleep as well. Not to close to bedtime, as eating too late can suppress your melatonin. So, no food within 2 hours of bedtime.
Any caffeine that you are consuming should be done before noon.
For those of you that know me, I do recommend cutting it out altogether as it does artificially boost your adrenals and they are already working too hard. However, if you have to do it, prior to lunch is recommended. Chocolate is included in this as well.
I have also read that Vitamin D supplements can help promote better sleep if they are taken in the morning. Your body actually works to produce Vitamin D during the time when we are awake. Makes sense since we were intended to get it from the sun so to get the most benefit out of your supplement, taking it at the start of your day will be best.
If you are taking bone broth to help with your gut health, it can also help your sleep if you are taking it at night. The key ingredient is the glycine and it can help with the onset of sleep. Isn’t that exciting.
If you read my other blogs on sleep, I hope you understand that the list of foods that I talked about here alone probably aren’t going to get you to better sleep. If you are struggling with leaky gut, there is a more significant eating protocol that you will need to consider as well and I’m back to talking about Paleo. I just can’t seem to get away from that.
I know I’ve said before that I feel like a broken record.
I do, and I hope you don’t feel that I’m lecturing you. I’m trying not to. But, it really isn’t rocket science. Improvements to most of your ailments are going to be made through the lifestyle shifts. Diet and sleep are areas requiring shifts. I am going to be diving into exercise next month and then we will be talking about stress management because the reality is if you can’t manage your stress, you can’t be healthy.
Have a great rest of your week everyone. Chat soon.