Bio-rhythms are critical to our routines from sleeping, awaking, working, and hunger. All are energy related, therefore it stands to reason that both nutrient and quality caloric intake may contribute to ones ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Consider your dietary intake before taking sleep medication; by making a few nutritional and routine changes you may find that you are able to take control of your night’s rest.
Relax, let go of your day. 32% of the population actually meet the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of magnesium. Without it the body is unable regulate sleep, its deficiency leads to asthma, depression, diabetes, insomnia, and osteoporosis. It can reduce the severity of symptoms related to: fibromyalgia, migraines, heart attack, premenstrual syndrome, stroke. “Magnesium is required for the active transport of ions like potassium and calcium across cell membranes. Through its role in ion transport systems, magnesium affects the conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm”, stated by the Micronutrient Information Center at Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
By including a variety of foods it easy to obtain the necessary amounts of magnesium needed for one to fall asleep.
Consume: dark leafy greens (spinach 1 cup raw 24 mg vs. 1 cup cooked 157 mg), pumpkin or sesame seeds (1 oz 150 mg), brazil nuts (1 oz/28 g 125 mg), almonds (1 oz/28g 93 mg), avocado (1 chopped 58mg), beans/lentils (1 cup cooked 148 mg), Mackerel fish (3 oz/85g 82mg).
Zinc Inhibits Magnesium. While it stands to reason that certain medications can interfere with proper magnesium absorption (discuss with Doctor), a study conducted on men, and another study on adolescent boys showed that the mineral zinc decreases the body’s absorption of magnesium. However increased amounts of protein (3 ozs/90g) promote magnesium absorption.
The body needs zinc for cell/energy metabolism, growth, development, cell signaling systems, immune system, neurological development, reproduction. Found in all body tissues zinc is important for enzyme and hormone function, vision, taste, smell, and in wound-healing.
Since both nutrients are critical to the life cycle, newer DRI standards suggest that amounts of magnesium should be increased to the following: Men DRI 420 mg/day and Women 320 mg/day. (old DRI: M 300 mg and W 270 mg)
Depletion of zinc & magnesium can come from consuming high amounts of coffee and tea.
Stay Asleep with potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that promotes fluid balance within the body, ridding excess sodium, aiding in cellular growth, and muscle contractions. It is found in most fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C making it readily available and can be included at almost every meal.
Eat: grapefruit, berries, oranges, bananas, kiwi, avocado, melon papaya, corn, and potato.
Men and Women (DRI) 4,700 mg/day.
Wake up Rested. Include foods with Vitamin B6 and the protein Tryptophan. Vitamin B6 helps create serotonin from the protein Tryptophan. Serotonin is neurotransmitter that is linked with happiness. In simplified terms, a Neurotransmitter (serotonin for example), is like the super-autostrada of information in your brain that allows different parts to talk to each other. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin while one sleeps.
At dinner time find health and comfort by including variety of foods: eggs, oats, bananas, poultry, meat, whole grain pasta, fennel or sunflower seeds, figs, fish, peanuts, milk, cottage cheese, and 1 ounce chocolate.
Men and Women Vitamin B6 DRI 400 mcg/day
Men and Women Tryptophan DRI 67 mg
Exercise is equally important to de-stress the body, provide oxygen to the muscles, excite, create neurons, and promote relaxation. 30-60 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week will keep your body and brain energized and strengthened.
Foods that should be avoided are: fried, fatty in taste, salty, sugary, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine 6 hours before bedtime.
A sample menu has been put together to present an idea of what your dietary intake should look like in order to stabilize your bio-rythym and have a more restful night.
By: Kimberly Crocker-Scardicchio
Suggested Menu to Promote a Rested Body
Fruit of choice: orange, banana, kiwi, melon
1 ounce pumpkin seeds
Bean or Lentil soup
Sandwich: Turkey, Avocado, lettuce, cheese
Water or tea
Poultry, Meat, or Fish 4 ounces
Pasta, rice, or potato
Dark leafy green salad
Fruit of choice
1 ounce Brazil Nuts
Glass of Wine, Water or Milk
- “Magnesium”. Ods.od.nih.gov. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
- “Lack Energy? Maybe It’s Your Magnesium Level” United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2008-09-18. Last paragraph
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Magnesium
- Potassium and Sleep http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1947601
- Tryptophan DRI http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15895512
- Wurtman RJ, Wurtman JJ, Regan MM, McDermott JM, Tsay RH, Breu JJ (2003).“Effects of normal meals rich in carbohydrates or proteins on plasma tryptophan and tyrosine ratios”. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 77 (1): 128–32. PMID 12499331.
- Magnesium function. Rude RK, Shils ME. Magnesium. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006:223-247.
- Magnesium inhibited by Zinc. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7836627?dopt=Abstract
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