Deep quality sleep is critical for optimal health. Deep sleep is when our body has time to heal, regenerate, and detoxify. Every organ in our body requires this deep restorative sleep to function optimally. When we are deprived of sleep, hormones become imbalanced, stress increases, and toxins accumulate. This increases the risk for many chronic diseases, mental health issues, and much more. There are many factors that can either have a positive or negative impact on the quality of our sleep. Using nutrition to enhance the quality of our sleep will also improve our overall health.
Consuming an unprocessed, whole-foods, organic nutrient-dense diet is key to ensuring optimal nutritional intake to balance hormones, prevent deficiencies, and reduce low levels of inflammation. When inflammation increases, it puts stress on the body and contributes to disrupted hormones and impaired sleep. Foods to include daily for optimal sleep include organic or clean vegetables (free of glyphosate, pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides), wild-caught salmon or sardines, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry, sprouted nuts and seeds, organic flaxseed and chia seeds, raw grass-fed dairy, and sprouted ancient whole grains that are naturally gluten-free such as quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and teff.
Processed, pre-packaged, or fast foods contain a host of additives, preservatives, rancid inflammatory fats, and sugars that disrupt many functions within the body and put an ample amount of stress on our organs. This makes it more challenging to enter a state of deep restorative sleep. Limiting caffeine intake is another important factor that impacts the quality of our sleep. If you enjoy coffee, aim for 1-2 servings of caffeine prior to 12pm, as caffeine can have a lingering effect, even if you do not physically feel it.
It is best to not consume food within 2-3 hours before bed, as this causes blood to flow to the digestive tract for digestion, which can prevent you from relaxing and falling sleep. Consuming foods rich in certain nutrients at dinner time can promote relaxation, which in turn will help you wind down before bed to ensure deep quality sleep. These nutrients include tryptophan, calcium, and magnesium.
Foods to promote better sleep:
- You can find tryptophan in pasture-raised turkey and chicken, pasture-raised eggs, organic spinach, grass-fed cheese, wild-caught fish, and sprouted nuts and seeds.
- Calcium is in seeds such as poppy, sesame, and chia. It is also in grass-fed dairy products, sardines, canned wild salmon, sprouted beans and lentils, sprouted almonds, and grass-fed whey protein.
- Magnesium is abundant in avocados, organic fair-trade dark chocolate, sprouted nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, flax, chia, almonds, cashews, Brazil, organic legumes, ancient whole grains such as buckwheat and quinoa, dark leafy greens, and bananas.
- Increase sleepiness with a natural source of melatonin by consuming 1-2 ounces of organic unfiltered tart cherry juice 60-90 minutes before bed.
- Herbs such as chamomile, lavender, passionflower, valerian root, and St. Johns wort are additional ways to induce and promote deep sleep
As you can see, the bottom line is cleaning up your overall daily nutritional intake to support the health and function of your entire body, ultimately supports deep quality, restorative sleep. If you eat a clean and balanced, nutrient-dense diet and still have trouble sleeping, our health coaches can further help you in this area. Additional high-quality supplementation with magnesium or melatonin before bed may also be helpful.