50-70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. About ½ of Americans will have trouble falling asleep in a year. Working on getting not just enough sleep, but high-quality sleep is important because sleep is critical for working memory, attention, decision-making, and visual-motor performance. Lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of automobile accidents and chronic lack of sleep is associated with the aging of the brain, neuronal damage, and increased cortisol levels at night.
Environmental (ex. metal toxicity)
Stress (ex. HPA dysregulation and infections)
Too much stimulation (ex. noise, light, food allergies, food sensitivities)
Lack of Exercise
Psychological (ex. depression & anxiety)
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Not being able to sleep well, specifically what is called insomnia, includes the following signs and symptoms:
(1) difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or nonrestorative sleep;
(2) this difficulty is present despite adequate opportunity and circumstance to sleep;
(3) this impairment in sleep is associated with daytime impairment or distress; and
(4) this sleep difficulty occurs at least 3 times per week and has been a problem for at least 1 month. 2
THREE TIPS FOR BETTER SLEEP THROUGH NUTRITION
Having a good balance of hormones is needed for high-quality sleep.
Amino acids are the building blocks to making protein and hormones that impact sleep.
Serotonin, melatonin, progesterone, and GABA are some of the important hormones for getting a good night sleep.
In general, it is recommended to eat protein at least 3 times a day. Certain conditions may require more or less frequency.
The serving size of animal protein is typically 2-4 oz for animal protein and 4-6 oz for plant-based protein, basically the size of a deck card.* For general maintenance, it is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight and for active people or people recovering from surgery it is is 1.7 grams of ideal body weight or more, depending on energy expenditure.*
Calculation for Protein Intake: Bodyweight in lbs/2.2x .8 or 1.7*
(Key: 1 kg = 2.2 lbs)*
You may be wondering why I didn't include it as part the protein section. Well, from my research it is appeared so important for sleep quality, I wanted to talk about it separately.
It is a nonessential amino acid - a building block to making proteins.
It one of three amino acids that help make up glutathione that is associated with detoxification and antioxidant mechanisms.
It is necessary for DNA, RNA, and numerous proteins.
It promotes digestion by supporting the production of bile salts and secretion of bile salts.
Increase calm by inhibiting excitatory neurotransmitters.
It helps initiate REM sleep.
Regulates gluconeogenesis, which helps control blood-sugar levels.
Helps control creatine levels and growth hormone secretion from the pituitary gland.
Assist in the production of the neurotransmitter serine, which helps with mood, memory, reduces stress, and more.
Foods: Best food sources are skin, bones, offal, connective tissue, tendons, and
ligaments from animals; including bone broth. For supplementation, gelatin and collagen can be used.
The membranes of cells and the communication between cells depend on fat for appropriate function, including in your brain.
An important type of fat called saturated fats is needed as material for creating the cell membrane too.
Make sure you are eating the appropriate amount of saturated fat for YOU. Recommended fat intake varies on genetic make-up, metabolic rate, activity level and more.* If you are unsure, talk with a nutritionist to figure out what might best work for you.
Saturated fats include the following sources and types of fat:
- Butter (contains butyric acid),
- Coconut milk;
- Olive oil, cashews, macadamias (high in omega-9 fats, which boost serotonin antidepressant activities).
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Wild caught fatty fishes is the best source for Omega-3s.
It is recommended to eat fatty fishes 5-6 servings per week.
If you cannot eat fish, take fish oil 2g per day.
Flax seeds are only good for a ⅓ of the population; the rest have a problem converting ALA (the form found in flax seeds) to DHA.
It is a MAO inhibitor; MAO depletes good feeling hormones (ex. dopamine and serotonin).
* I revised this information on 12/19/16.
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Xu, M., Zhao, J., Zhang, Y., Ma, X., Dai, Q., Zhi, H., … Wang, L. (2016). Apolipoprotein E Gene Variants and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Meta-Analysis. BioMed Research International, 2016, 3912175. http://doi.org/10.1155/2016/3912175
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