Nutrition & Sleep- Role of nutrition on quality of sleep

For years your doctor, your dietitian and your friend who goes to the gym multiple times a week have
probably been telling you to eat better and exercise more. It’s all you hear on television, in the
newspapers and on talk radio. New doctors and dieticians suggested you new diets, new fads, and so
you’ve made some lifestyle changes – cutting back on your fat and sweets intake, and doing some
cardiovascular exercise a few days a week. Despite all this, you still feel burned out, can’t drop those
extra pounds, and don’t have the energy to greet each day with enthusiasm. What are you missing?

The third piece of the puzzle: sleep
Though the exact mechanisms of how sleep works, how sleep rejuvenates the body and mind is still
mysterious, one thing sleep specialists and scientists do know is that adequate sleep is necessary for
healthy functioning. Research shows that all mammals need sleep, and that sleep regulates mood and is
related to learning and memory functions. Not only will getting your help you perform on a test, learn a
new skill or help you stay on task, but it may also be a critical factor in your health, weight and energy
Eating certain foods could be the fastest way towards a better night’s sleep.
The idea that the foods we eat can both positively and adversely affect our sleep has existed since the
1970’s when the concept of the gut and brain connection was first discovered. It was widely noted that
food had a sedative effect on both humans and animals. After all, who doesn’t feel like a nap after
they’ve eaten a big meal?

Our diets have changed dramatically since the 1970s however, and in light of the health awakening that
has occurred over the past few years, we are now carefully assessing the nutrients which we digest, and
their subsequent effects on our bodies and day-to-day lives. In fact, researchers have been able to pinpoint which nutrients help to induce sleep and uncover some
of the mystery surrounding our sleep patterns.

What it all means: how diet, sleep and exercise affect you
By now you probably realize that health is complex – if one part of the body system suffers, you’re likely
to see consequences in other areas of your life. Though diet and exercise are critical components of
healthy lifestyles, it’s also important to remember that sleep is inherently linked with how we eat (and
how much), how we exercise (and whether or not we lose weight), and how we function on a daily basis.
Getting the proper amount of sleep each night is necessary to face the world with your best foot
forward. Sleep will help you on the road to good fitness, good eating and good health.

For any exclusive diet plan for any specific individual, consulting a qualified Nutritionist is recommended.
Some of the most promising new studies have confirmed the positive influence of protein intake on
sleep, as well as micronutrients like magnesium and zinc and their influence on sleep duration.
So what can we do to promote a good night’s sleep? Here are our top tips.
Consider your macronutrients

Macronutrients are the nutrients that your body needs in large amounts to function – these are protein,
carbohydrates, and fats. In a study conducted last year, it was proven that higher fat and protein diets
were associated with better sleep quality, while higher carbohydrate intake resulted in significantly
shorter wake times.
Protein food
Protein stands out more than any other macronutrient for its ability to promote healthy sleep. Eating
foods high in protein during the day and at night can help to induce better sleep quality. Not only will it
help you to fall asleep, but it will also help you to stay asleep. Protein contains amino acids such as
tryptophan which help the body produce serotonin and melatonin, regulating your sleep and wake

Avoid sugar and processed foods
If you tend to have broken sleep, or trouble staying asleep, this may be reflective of your diet. If you’ve
eaten sugar or a diet high in simple carbohydrates that day, you can probably expect to wake up in the
middle of the night. This is because foods high in sugar and simple carbs can unbalance your blood sugar
levels and reduce the activity of a neuropeptide called orexin which regulates arousal, wakefulness, and

Limit caffeine and alcohol
This one is obvious – caffeine, especially when consumed late in the day, can disrupt sleep. This is
because caffeine is a stimulant that can delay the timing of your circadian rhythm.

Alcohol is not something advisable to have much of in your diet, particularly for sleep. Although alcohol
is a depressant that can help you to fall asleep faster, it also contributes to poorer sleep quality. It can
inhibit REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is one of the most restorative stages of the sleep cycle.

Sunshine and exercise
Aside from food, two things that promote a good night’s sleep include exposure to sunlight and exercise.
Many studies have shown that exposure to bright sunlight can increase the body’s melatonin
production. 10-30 minutes of sunlight each day should be enough, depending on how sensitive your skin

For any exclusive diet plan for any specific individual, consulting a qualified Nutritionist is recommended.
is to the sun. Exposure to sunlight also helps us to produce Vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient for

There is also a well-studied consensus that exercise positively influences sleep quality in adults. It does
so by increasing the slow-wave stages of sleep cycles, which are the most restorative stages of sleep.
Exercise can also lower your cortisol levels, cause you to feel sleepy, and help the brain to produce
endorphins, all which help to increase the quality of your slumber.

Dietary zinc has been proven to increase the amount and quality of sleep. Zinc is one of the three
minerals that have a sedative effect of the human nervous system. It also has restorative effects and is essential for many biological processes.


Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for health, and it is a powerful sleep aid. It does this by helping
your brain and body to relax and regulating neurotransmitters which can help to calm the nervous
system and improve sleep quality. In fact, if you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet, then you
will experience sleep problems.

So, “Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together”.