6 Nutrients To Help You Sleep
There are many nutrients that are essential for us to get a good nights’ sleep.
Some of these are:
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin D
- Amino acids
Often we eat poor diets, on top of which, if you have allergies and sensitivities to foods you will not digest these foods and absorb the available nutrients efficiently.
Magnesium and Calcium
A lack of these two nutrients can lead to muscular cramps, or ‘charlie horse’, in calves and feet, and restless legs. They also play a part in having a calm mind.
Most North Americans are deficient in magnesium, and you can ask your family doctor to test for this in your annual blood work.
It is always best to get your nutrition from ‘real food’, however, this is not always possible, and there are various nutritional supplements on the market that provide these two essential minerals. Choose magnesium as glycinate or dermal spray (skin) application and calcium as citrate. These forms are easy to absorb.
Foods that will provide calcium and magnesium include
Nut: – walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, brazil nuts
Seeds: however- pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, chia seeds
Bananas, avocado, dark leafy green vegetables and dark chocolate
Milk products will provide. However, they can cause restlessness and insomnia.
There is research that shows Vitamin D to be essential for good sleep. OHIP no longer tests for this as it considers us all to be deficient. You can ask your doctor to check your level; it costs around $35.
It is safe for most adults to take 1 – 3000 iu daily and a blood level between 150 and 200 is sufficient. Liquid supplements that are absorbed in the mouth are the best way to increase your D levels as they are readily absorbed. Take them in the morning as they may keep you awake if taken at night.
B vitamins are mostly found in fish, eggs and meat along with milk products. In particular, Vitamin B12 only comes from animal sources and foods that have been artificially fortified. If you take a supplement, it should also be taken in the morning as taking it at night may keep you awake.
Amino acids – the building blocks of protein
Several of these are essential for sleep. You will need to speak with a health care practitioner to determine which, if any, of these, maybe playing a part in your insomnia.
Another cause of insomnia is going to bed hungry, with low blood sugar. Make sure to eat enough during the day, having your last full meal at least 2 hours before going to bed. You can also have a small snack 30 minutes before bed.
Melatonin as a sleep aid
If you are having problems falling asleep taking 0.3 – 5mg of melatonin an hour before bed can be helpful. It is a natural chemical produced in our bodies that tell our brain to prepare for sleep. Start with the lowest dose and monitor its effectiveness. It should be discontinued once you have created a habit of falling asleep more quickly.
Want to find out if you have deficiencies?
Your family doctor can test for most of these nutrients. However, the level that is considered ‘within normal range’ by them may well be very sub-optimal as the reference range is quite wide. A visit to a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner will provide you with more information.