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Nutrition and Sleep?

Nutrition and Sleep?

Anyone who suffers from insomnia understands the seriousness of not getting a good night’s sleep.  When we get inadequate sleep, our whole life can suffer, including work, family and health.

First, remember that awakening during the night can be the result of what you ate or drank hours before.  Things like sugar, alcohol, spicy foods and of course caffeine can all affect our sleep.

Additionally, if you are unknowingly deficient in chromium, manganese, magnesium and other nutrients you can experience hypoglycemic rebound a few hours after you go to sleep, causing you to wake-up and unable to go back to sleep.

There are also a number of hormones that can impact sleep, but today we will focus on serotonin.  Serotonin affects both sleep and mood.  Antidepressants like Prozac work on serotonin.

In order to make serotonin, we need the amino acid tryptophan.  No doubt, you are familiar with the studies that show low tryptophan levels lead to insomnia, waking up unrested, inability to stay asleep, etc. 

Dozens of studies have proven that tryptophan helps with sleep, improves mental clarity, reduces depression and even improves fibromyalgia, anxiety and reduces carbohydrate cravings.

What we now know is that a simple B6 or zinc deficiency can contribute to insomnia.  This is because B6 is needed to make tryptophan work.  For instance, if you have an elevated organic acid known as kynurenic acid and low tryptophan, the correction of B6 may be all you need to restore sleep.

Also, zinc is needed to convert B6 into its active form so it can then transform tryptophan into serotonin.

It is also important to realize that most serotonin is not made in the brain, in fact 95% of the serotonin is made in the gut, so an unhealthy gut can be a major contributor to poor sleep.  If you have gut issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation you may need to focus on fixing your gut in order to solve insomnia.

If you continue to suffer from insomnia, you should consider a nutrient analysis.  Identifying nutrient deficiencies and/or malabsorption and correcting the root cause of insomnia is far healthier than continued sleep deprivation or prescription medications.  When it comes to health, it is important to understand the significance of nutritional biochemistry.



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