Although many folks often don’t equate lack of sleep with nutrition issues, that doesn’t mean a consistent loss of shut eye isn’t having a big - and likely negative - impact on your health. In fact, inadequate sleep has been shown to be a risk factor for obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. It’s also been shown to be associated with an increase in inflammation in the body.
As I’m sure you can figure out, none of this spells news for your body. But there’s good news! Many of these risks can be mitigated if we solve the no-sleep issue and fix it with a whole-body approach. To do that, here are my top five nutrition tips to improve your sleep naturally so you can feel amazing and achieve your wellness goals.
1. Follow a high-fiber diet low in refined sugars.
Research shows individuals who consume diets high in refined sugar and low in fiber had greater wake cycles throughout the night, which resulted in disrupted sleep. My suggestion: add an additional serving of vegetables with dinner and opt for plant-based protein sources such as legumes or lentils.
2. Enjoy cherry juice.
A single shot of tart cherry juice may be the answer you need to get some sleep without a prescription or that glass of vino! Research has shown tart cherries contain high concentrations of melatonin - the hormone that regulates healthy sleep/wake patterns - and strong antioxidants, which could mean improved sleep quality.
3. Ditch alcohol as a sleep aid.
Time and time again I hear of people touting alcohol as the only thing that helps them fall sleep or get to snoozing faster, and in fact, research supports this - alcohol does get you to dreamland quicker. However, what the research also shows is that, with alcohol-induced slumber, the second half of your sleep cycle will be disrupted by suppressed REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and increased wakefulness. Considering this information, you’d have to agree the cons of consuming alcohol before bed outweigh the pros. So what should you do instead? Drink your wine or spirits earlier in the day, or better yet, simply swap it for a glass of kombucha.
4. Increase your magnesium intake.
Recent literature suggests magnesium's important role in maintaining normal circadian rhythms and improving sleep quality in adults. Multiple studies show the calming effects of magnesium as a treatment for insomnia, particularly in older adults. Get your magnesium by eating nuts, beans, whole grains, and seafood. You might also consider taking a magnesium citrate or bisglycinate supplement before bed.
5. Consider probiotic supplementation.
When it comes to sleep, mood stability, and gastrointestinal health, appropriate intake of probiotics to ensure gut health has been a hot topic in recent medical literature. For example, one study found that after six weeks of supplementing with a blend of Lactobacillus fermentum, L. rhamnosus , L. plantarum B ifidobacterium longum, participants had statistically significant improvements in mood and sleep quality.
I hope these tips leave you exhausted mamas feeling more rested and energized!
Want to hear more from registered dietitian, Rebekah Miller? Check out her YouTube channel, where she offers evidence-based nutrition advice using a whole-body approach.
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About the Contributor:
Rebekah Miller is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, a weight loss and disease management expert, and she's also an expert on SocialMama. Her mission is to help adults manage and prevent chronic diet-related diseases and normalize real food. Using a full body approach to health using evidenced based nutrition recommendations, she helps her clients feel their absolute best. Rebekah offers 1x1 nutrition counseling through her online business, Miller Nutrition.