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
- 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.
- Needing to sleep during the day. Do you feel you always need to catch-up on your sleep during the day?
- 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?
- 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.
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 is the hormone of darkness. Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine), hormone of the pineal gland, is concerned with biological timing. It is secreted at night in all species, whether day-or night-active.
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.
Studies show that melatonin can significantly increase REM sleep percentage and promote decline in rectal temperature during sleep. This is pretty important if you are suffering from reduced REM sleep!
Melatonin is so important for sleep that successful use of melatonin supplementation is found in sleep disorders associated with abnormal timing of the circadian system: jetlag, shift work, delayed sleep phase disorder, and some sleep problems of the elderly.
I believe you will find it very interesting that it has been found to help many blind individuals, who lack the all-important light-dark time cue, and cannot maintain their internal clocks on 24h clock time. They suffer from what is called non-24h sleep-wake disorder, during which their individual circadian period keeps to its own time, and “free runs,” usually slightly longer than 24h. Essentially, visually impaired people have alternating poor sleep as they cycle in and out of the circadian clock. When oral melatonin is provided this is sufficient to synchronize their clock and improve their sleep.
- Melatonin is essential for sleep and to help you tune in with your circadian rythm
- Consider supplementing if you have issues sleeping. Consider supplementing an amount from 1-10mg but try out different doses to find what works for you
There is more to melatonin
Although melatonin is know for it’s importance on sleep it does a lot more! Melatonin is a master antioxidant and helps to boost antioxidant enzymes in the body by binding to melatonin receptors.
- Melatonin can freely pass into any cell and help fight inflammation.
- Melatonin can even concentrate in bone marrow to protect the stem cells that eventually form our immune cells. Having good melatonin is vital for a good immune system.
This is perhaps one of the many reasons why sleep is so important. It helps melatonin secretion!
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.
- Get plenty of morning sunlight. Morning light is crucial for melatonin secrition. Wake-up with plenty of light.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Get your Magnesium. Magnesium is important for producing melatonin, including many other biological processes and reactions in your body.
- 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!