Sleep and Nutrition

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Sleep and nutrition   

Sleep is so important not only for our physical health but also our emotional and spiritual health.  It has a major impact on cognitive functioning.  One in ten visits to the GP are about poor ability to sleep.  When you are tired, life problems seem worse as sleep deprivation has a major impact on the part of the brain that controls language, memory, planning and sense of time and   17 hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05% (two glasses of wine). This is the legal drink driving limit in the UK!

The advice is to eat and live to help good sleep.

FOODS TO EAT THAT HELP YOU SLEEP

 

1.      Fish e.g salmon, halibut and tuna – these fish have high levels of vitamin B6 which is needed to make melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

2.      Carbohydrate-rich dinners – a meal with a high-glycaemic-index triggering high amounts of insulin increases the ratio of sleep-inducing tryptophan relative to other amino acids in the blood – allowing proportionately more to get to the brain. (Suggested by a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

3.      Tart cherry juice – rich in melatonin, in a small study it was shown to aid sleep. When adults with chronic insomnia drank a cup of tart cherry juice twice a day they experienced some relief in the severity of their insomnia.

4.      Yoghurt – dairy products like yoghurt and milk have high doses of calcium and there is research that suggests being calcium-deficient may make it difficult to sleep.

5.     Whole grains – such as bulgur and barley are rich in magnesium. Magnesium plays an important role in muscle relaxation, energy production and the deactivation of adrenaline.

6.      Green leafy vegetables ­­­- such as kale also have healthy doses of calcium.

7.      Bananas – as well as being a good source of potassium, bananas also contain B6 which is needed to make melatonin.

8.      Chickpeas  – high levels of vitamin B6

9.      Fortified cereals  – high levels of vitamin B6

10.  Seafood, red meat/pork and eggs – high levels of taurine which raises the chemical transmitter GABA. GABA has a calming effect on the nervous system, lowers anxiety and the production of stress hormones that hinder rest.

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