A good night’s sleep is one of the four main pillars of health, with the other three being eating healthy food, getting regular exercise, and having a positive outlook. The U.S. National Institutes of Health reports that up to 70 million U.S. adults experience sleeplessness and insomnia, with 63 billion dollars lost each year in productivity.
On a personal level, those who have trouble sleeping are familiar with the many ways it affects their lives. In an effort to help people sleep better, research scientists are discovering that eating certain foods can have a profound effect on the quality of sleep.
One good example is a recent study from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Researchers in Norway have combined two of the major health pillars into one by proving that eating fish has a positive impact on good sleep and overall daily functioning. In this study, 95 males were divided into two groups: one that ate salmon three times per week, and the other group that ate an alternative meal (chicken, pork or beef). During the 6 month study period, their quality of sleep was measured in several ways including the amount of time needed to fall asleep, and the actual time spent sleeping in bed vs. their time awake.
The results showed that eating fish had a positive impact on sleep in all the ways it was measured. The researchers mentioned that fish is a source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is a precursor for melatonin, and that other studies have found tryptophan in foods increases sleepiness in the evening. The fish group also reported better daily functioning, alertness and performance.
In this study, vitamin D levels were also found to have a significant impact on sleep quality. Blood samples were collected during the study that measured the participant’s vitamin D, and those in the fish-eating group had a level that was closer to optimum. The study revealed a major, positive relationship between daily functioning and a better vitamin D level. Those eating the salmon had higher levels of vitamin D and had better sleep quality, shorter wake times and a higher percentage of sleeping time while in bed.
The study also uncovered that eating fish creates a positive improvement in heart rate variability. This is a measurement of the length of time between heart beats, and a greater variability between the beats shows that a person is stronger, more adaptive and physically flexible. In addition, the fish group had a significant increase in basic heart power.
Several other foods have also been proven to help with sleep and insomnia such as bananas, walnuts, tart cherries, turkey, almonds, and supplements containing potassium, vitamin D, zinc, calcium and magnesium. In a study from the European Neurology Journal, researchers uncovered that calcium levels were higher in the body during the deepest levels of sleep and that insomnia is related to a calcium deficiency. When the blood calcium level was normalized, optimum sleep was restored.
This natural health news is provided by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and supplier of effective natural remedies since 2001. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes Sleep Minerals II, the effective natural sleep aid with calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D, and also Joints and More, the natural solution for joint relief, aches and pains, stronger hair and nails and more energy.
Reference: Fish Consumption, Sleep and Daily Functioning – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4013386/