It's a well-known fact that many of us are sleep deprived. About one-third of Canadians sleep fewer hours per night than recommended for optimal physical and mental health and there's nothing more satisfying than a full night's sleep. But did you know we make huge sacrifices when we scrimp on ‘shut-eye’?
The benefits of solid z’s and enough of them are immediate: you wake up with energy, stamina, improved mood, sharper attention, greater productivity… the list go on. And long term, regular restorative sleep means curbing inflammation in the body, improving gut health, maintaining a healthy weight and sharpening your memory. Healthy sleep habits may even contribute to you living longer.
But while there are tons of factors contributing to how much sleep you're getting (stress, work, kids, pregnancy, alcohol, chronic illness, etc…), nutritionists say don't overlook your diet. Wellness experts have long touted what you eat - and even when you eat - can have a direct effect on your slumber.
Doctors and sleep specialists have long-known the impact sleep can have on your metabolism and hormones and often tout these three important nutrients that, when added to your diet, can vastly improve your overall sleep:
Magnesium is a very important mineral that the body needs to function properly, including for sleep. Doctors may recommend specific amounts of magnesium for help with insomnia and restless leg syndrome. It can also help maintain healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that aids in deep restorative sleep. Some experts say men should get at least 400 milligrams of magnesium per day, while women need at least 300 milligrams. You can get it naturally in water, dark chocolate, whole grains, dark-green, leafy vegetables nuts and seeds (like cashews, almonds, flaxseed). Legumes (black beans, lima beans, edamame) and low-fat dairy products (yogurt and milk) are also good, natural sources of Magnesium.
Consuming a high-fibre diet does wonders for your gut and your sleep. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that eating less fiber, more saturated fat, and more sugar - even just one day - is associated with a lighter, less restorative sleep and with more disruptions. This includes more tossing and turning and less deep, uninterrupted shut-eye.
Aim for approximately 30 grams of fiber per day to set yourself up for overnight success. High fibre foods include vegetables like: leafy greens, kale, spinach, broccoli and carrots. Fruit such as blackberries, avocados and apples have tons of fibre. Same for legumes (such as lentils), kidney beans, quinoa and chickpeas. Don’t forget: if you are boosting your fibre intake, make sure you stay hydrated otherwise you might have trouble ‘going’ in the morning.
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