Stress & Sleep

Increase melatonin and sleep better

You need good quality sleep every single day, to regenerate, repair, detox and feel energetic.

Not getting enough sleep can be a major issue. Did you know that lack of sleep contributes to:

  • Increased blood pressure, higher stress, heart attacks.
  • High blood sugars. Even one night of poor recovery can make your blood sugar levels equal to that of a type-2 diabetic.
  • A poor night sleep will make you insulin restistant and make it much harder to metabolizing carbohydrates and is more prone to store them as fat.
  • Pre-Mature Aging. Lack of sleep releases cortisol that is the catabolic stress hormone.Your body will begin to break down its muscle and accumulate fat. It also accelerates aging and makes your skin more wrinkled and dry.
  • Hormonal Malfunctioning. It decreases your testosterone and leads to lower libido in both men and women. Human growth hormone actually gets released during the first hours of our sleep which is incredibly important for building tissue and maintaining leanness.

Signs you are not getting enough quality sleep

Watch-out for some of the below signs. The list is in a prioritized order as these are very strong indicators of quality of sleep

  1. Need a coffee first thing in the morning. If you’re the kind of person who needs coffee to wake up, then chances are you’re not getting enough sleep. When you wake-up you should be at your most energetic as cortisol is at it’s peak.
  2. Needing to sleep during the day. Do you feel you always need to catch-up on your sleep during the day?
  3. Brain fog and problems concentrating. Do you have trouble achieving what you have set out to do for the day, and spend the day scrolling through your mobile?
  4. Over-eating and cravings. Do you have your mind on food?Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin the satiety hormone and elevated ghrelin the hunger hormone.
A good night sleep measured with my Oura

For most adults, the recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours per night. However, the composition of that sleeping period is more important. You need around 25% REM and around 25% Deep sleep. These two phases are the most important. To achieve a good night sleep we need to start with melatonin.

Melatonin

Melatonin is the hormone of darkness.

Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland of the brain when you find yourself in a dark environment. As any sleep expert will tell you, it is incredibly important to kickstart the sleep cycle by turning off the lights and using black-out blinds or an eye mask in the bedroom. This is because the change in light causes messages to be sent from the eye to the brain telling it that more melatonin should be produced. The melatonin winds the body down to a more lethargic and sleep-ready state.

Without melatonin, it would be impossible to achieve relaxed, restful sleep and so the body would not be able to go through the restorative processes that typically take place in bed. Since the secretion of endogenous melatonin decreases after childhood, increasing dietary consumption is a good strategy.

Some not so obvious tips

Here are some tips to increase melatonin and sleep better. These are a lot more areas that we cover as part of the Sleep Series, but I wanted to share some simpe tips related to nutrition that you might not be aware of.

  1. Eat your last meal 3-hours before going to sleep. You probably heard this before, but you might not know is that insulin and melatonin are antagonists. In the presense of insulin you won’t secreate much melatonin. Additionally your body will be working overtime to digest the food you just ate, and you won’t be a able to get into deep sleep!
  2. Eat some carbs in your last meal. Best time to eat some carbs is with your last meal. Small amounts of carbohydrates like squash, potatoes, will help with serotonin, melatonin production and promote sleep. 50grams of carbs should do the trick.
  3. Eat mushroom, and eggs. Melatonin can be obtained from both animal and plant foods. However mushrooms are on top of the list for melatonin (especially shiitake mushorroms). Eggs have also a higher concentration of melatonin and will also provide tryptophan (an amino acid) which is needed to help you relax.
  4. Get your Magnesium. Magnesium is important for producing melatonin, including many other biological processes and reactions in your body.

Key Takeaways

  • Quality sleep will help you avoid many healthy issues while refreshed when you wake-up.
  • Track your sleep daily to understand how much REM and Deep sleep you are really getting.
  • Increase melatonin via nutrition since aging reduces what the body naturally produces.
  • Try-out today for dinner a mushroom, squash, omelette!.

Further Reading

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