Is your diet impacting your sleep?

Is your diet impacting your sleep?

Sleep and diet are delicately intertwined – with sleep impacting our eating patterns and our eating patterns affecting our sleep.

Almost half of all Australian adults report at least two sleep related problems[1]. These can include dissatisfaction with both the amount of sleep they get as well as the restfulness and quality of sleep. Getting to the bottom of some of the reasons why poor sleep occurs can be highly beneficial.

The food we put into our mouths not only provides the nutrients we need to supply our body with energy throughout the day, but it also helps us sustain our energy and allow for the natural wind-down at bedtime.

This increase in energy and subsequent wind-down period is known as our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm is influenced by light and dark, our lifestyle including the amount of physical activity we get, as well as our eating habits.

Light is the most powerful factor in aligning your circadian rhythm, so ensuring you have exposure to bright, natural light during the day is an important part of a healthy sleep cycle.

The second most powerful factor is our eating habits. Growing evidence indicates that sufficient nutrient consumption is important for sleep with one large study publishing that a lack of key nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K is associated with related sleep problems[2]

Not only is magnesium an important mineral for a healthy nervous system, it’s also an essential nutrient for hundreds of enzymatic processes within the body. Magnesium also assists with energy production, muscle health and muscle contraction function as well as the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Dietary magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and cacoa. However, while magnesium is available in food sources, under normal dietary conditions, only around 30 - 50% of ingested magnesium is absorbed[3].

It is not just what we eat, but when we eat that can also have an impact on our sleep.

Time-restricted, or time-mindful eating is linked directly to the circadian rhythm. Intermittent fasting is one way where diet can have a positive impact on sleep. Rather than being about the food you eat, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and eating. There are various ways to implement intermittent fasting including only eating during daylight hours and finishing your last meal early in the evening, at around 7pm and not eating again until late morning the following day.

Intermittent fasting influences a whole range of chemicals in the body, having a positive impact on sleep.

It’s also important to note the avoidance of stimulating food (and drink) before bed is recommended if you’re looking to improve your sleep. This includes both caffeine and alcohol. The consumption of heavy meals at dinner time is also discouraged as the time and energy it takes your body to digest a full meal can interfere with your body’s ability to wind down and fall asleep.

If you’re looking for a little extra support at bedtime to assist with sleep, consider Herbs of Gold Magnesium Night Plus.  Formulated with a therapeutic 320mg of magnesium per dose, this high-strength powder is combined with herbal favourites for sleep, Passionflower and California poppy, both of which have been traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to promote sleep.

 

[1] Australian Institute of Health & Welfare. 2021. Sleep problems as a risk factor for chronic conditions. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/risk-factors/sleep-problems-as-a-risk-factor/data

[2] Ikonte, C. J., Mun, J. G., Reider, C. A., Grant, R. W., & Mitmesser, S. H. (2019). Micronutrient Inadequacy in Short Sleep: Analysis of the NHANES 2005-2016. Nutrients11(10), 2335.

[3] Vormann J. (2016). Magnesium: Nutrition and Homoeostasis. AIMS public health3(2), 329–340.

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