Sleep deprivation shuts down the release of growth hormone which is necessary for relieving pain and healing the body. Poor sleep may also intensify the body’s sensitivity to pain. It reduces the body’s pain tolerance by making the central nervous system overly sensitive to pain signals and inadequate sleep aggravates inflammation. Increased inflammation typically leads to increased pain. So what can we do about our diet to help promote sleep?
Generally speaking, foods that contain tryptophan, like complex carbohydrates, raise melatonin levels in the body which is a major hormone that regulates sleep. Increased fiber intake has also been associated with deeper and more restorative sleep. Magnesium works as a natural muscle relaxant and also helps regulate melatonin but the majority of the population is deficient in this nutrient. Longer sleep has been linked to increased consumption of selenium which is abundant in brazil nuts as well as potassium, calcium, and Vitamin B6.
Studies have shown that people with high consumption of saturated fat and sugars especially late in the day have a shorter duration of sleep, lighter, less restorative sleep, and wake up more frequently throughout the night. So some foods to focus on: try unsalted nuts like walnuts, pistachios, cashews, and almonds. Fatty fish like salmon provides a healthy dose of Vitamin D and Omega-3s which also regulate serotonin. You could also include lean proteins like chicken and turkey. Stick to complex carbs like leafy greens and whole grains but avoid refined and enriched grains.
Stay tuned for part two and comment below if you’ve been having trouble sleeping.