As a fitness lifestyle coach, one thing I have noticed about first world people is their habitual nature to go, go, go. Most people from industrialized countries are workaholics who are poorly fed, highly caffeinated, dehydrated, under exercised, over stressed, and lacking enough sleep. All these factors cause major health problems in the long run. The one area that I find troubles most working adults, and adults with children, is the lack of sleep. Even adults who claim to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night are often getting less than that due to stress induced dreams, trouble staying asleep, trouble breathing while sleeping, or some other sleep impairment. Without enough sleep it makes it ten times more challenging to reach fitness goals. To avoid having to use any type of drug to promote sleep, I recommend paying attention to the micro-nutrients in food that promote better sleep.
Over the years, I have learned the value and importance of fiber rich diets. Fiber rich diets not only support better digestion and feeling full, but fiber rich diets also help with better sleep. Often times, when we increase our fiber content from foods like dark, leafy greens we start to crave less sugar and processed foods. Our body's brain begins to recognize what feels good and we start to crave more of the good stuff and less of the bad, processed stuff. What is actually happening when we eat right is a release of melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone which helps to control our sleep cycles. In fact, you can find melatonin in fruits and vegetables, not just through supplements. A diet rich in fiber increases the amount of melatonin in your system, which helps to promote restorative sleep. My clients know that I make veggies a free food. I would never restrict the amount of green veggies that they eat throughout the day because I want them to feel full and satisfied. If my clients feel satisfied after a meal they are less likely to crave processed, high sugary foods. This improves their overall health, which includes their sleep habits.
Other micronutrients to consider for improving sleep are vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B. Both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, can be found in foods like salmon, sardines, yogurt, nuts, and eggs. These foods help to regulate the release of serotonin in the brain, and help to regulate sleep cycles. Magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B help the body to be more relaxed and feel good. When the body feels good and is relaxed, we produce more serotonin and our central nervous system can be more at ease. Being at ease helps sleep patterns, reduces the risk of disease, helps people overcome mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, and helps people to conquer weight loss goals.
Below is a list of researched micronutrients and hormones to help support sleep cycles. The foods listed are all part of the diets I create for each client. As a coach, I am not just concerned with the outer appearance of my transformation clients. I am highly concerned about what is happening internally. Before we can change our outside world, we have to take care of the inside world. May we all have deep, restful sleep, so we can be happier, fuller people.
1. Melatonin: Bananas, cherries, flaxseeds, bell peppers, raspberries
2. Serotonin: Bananas, kiwis, pecans, pineapples, plums, tomatoes, walnuts
3. Omega-3: Eggs, flaxseeds, salmon, sardines, trout, walnuts, potatoes
4. Magnesium: Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, extra dark chocolate, salmon, yogurt
5. Potassium: Squash, avocados, bananas, salmon, sweet potatoes
6. Tryptophan: Eggs, spinach, turkey
7. Vitamin B: Avocados, bananas, bulgur, pistachios, salmon, brown rice, sesame seeds
8. Vitamin D: Eggs, mushrooms, salmon, sardines, turkey, yogurt
list supported by
Journal of Medicinal Food
I am a new mother who has her hands full! I juggle not just my coaching business, but I am also a full time educator. I also teach yoga in the Bay Area, and I mentor first generation college students.