Friday, May 20, 2011

Nutrients for A Good Night's Rest

An article recently featured in a local daily The Sun caught my attention :

“The risk of obesity was 700% higher in adults who had less sleep compared to those with average sleep duration.”

According to a survey on centenarians indicates that people sleep between 6-8 hours daily, with those who sleep 7 hours enjoying the lowest mortality rate. In another survey, those who sleep longer than 10 hours daily can suffer a 200% higher risk of dying from all causes. Sleep should be natural and sound.

The article also recommends that some nutrients can be taken to give us better sleep and leading to a healthier life. The nutrients recommended are generally free from adverse side effects if consumed in dosages as recommended by nutritional therapist. Since this is an article with some good informative knowledge, I have decided to share this info with whoever would like to know more about the nutrients.


The neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) has a calming and stabilising effect on our brain. It promotes sound sleep patterns and helps us handle stress. Deficiency can result in anxiety, irritability and nervousness. The protein glutamine is the precursor to GABA. Food rich in glutamine include almonds, banana, whole grains, lentils, citrus fruits, spinach, potato and rice bran. Our dream state takes place during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep promoted partly by GABA.


Studies have confirmed that L-tryptophan can overcome difficulty in falling asleep, superficial sleep and poor dreaming. This amino acid increases slow wave (deep) and REM sleep. It is a precursor to the hormone serotonin, which relieves mental tension and anxiety.

Serotonin is converted by vitamin B6 to 5-HTP and then to sleep hormone relatonin. Food rich in L-tryptophan include peanuts, soy isolate, almonds, wheat germ, wheat bran, egg white, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, Swiss cheeses and seaweeds.


For good sleep, pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is needed. It helps us to produce as well as recall vivid dreams. Protein metabolism depends on adequate amounts of this nutrient. Sources of vitamin B6 include seafood, potato, banana and nuts.

Vitamin B3 also induces deep-sleep by raising levels of our growth hormone secreted at night. Our body uses L-tryptophan to produce vitamin B3, which is widely supplemented to treat heart disease due to its positive effect on cholesterol levels without adversely affecting productions of Co-Q10 enzyme.

Research suggests that those who consume multivitamins daily need less sleep to get by, and an optimum intake of vitamins reduces the need for longer hours of sleep. Wild bee pollen is considered the richest source of organic natural multivitamin / minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes.


Muscle cramps and movements disrupt sound sleep and these problems may be overcome by consuming magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, soy, bran, barley, wheat germ, spinach, seaweed, brown rice, prawn, clams and beverages such as cocoa.

Every night coughing linked to allergies may be relieved by drinking a cup of warm, thick cocoa (not chocolate) before bedtime. According to the US National Institute of Health, a daily dose of 400mg and 600mg of elemental magnesium is needed to enjoy its various beneficial health effects, which include a significant improvement in achieving deep sleep.

Magnesium citrate is more bioavailable and well-researched compared to magnesium oxide. Excess calcium, coffee or acidic food intake cause urinary excretion of magnesium. Even a small amount of potassium intake can shorten your time taken to fall asleep.

Food rich in potassium include sengkuang, tapioca leaves and tomato. Both magnesium and potassium help lower one’s blood pressure too. If a person is anaemic, intake of sufficient iron-rich food can reduce the number of times he or she wakes up at night. However, iron supplements should only be taken if serum ferritin level is normal. An elevated level may indicate blood marrow disorders and this should be investigated. Iron from food sources are safer to consume and these include cashew nuts, Chinese parsley, egg yolk and organ or red meat.

A very small amount of copper in our diet can help us feel more fresh when we wake up in the morning. Food rich in copper include mushrooms, cocoa, nuts, lentils, soy bean, poultry, oysters, whole grains and prunes. Copper deficiency can be caused by an intake of excessive zinc. Such a deficiency is rare since copper is present in numerous food sources.


Co-enzyme Q10 reduces night awakenings and shortens the amount of sleep one requires. If you are on cholesterol-lowering drug (statins), your body’s production of Co-Q10 may be significantly reduced. Several nutrients are needed by the liver to produce this precious coenzyme which protects the heart, gum and other vital organs in our body. Numerous enzymes are critical to our sleep process and our understanding of them is still at a preliminary level.


Omega-3 fatty acids such as those from flax seeds, blue green sea algae and fish oil can help induce deeper night sleep. These fats and a small amount of omega-6 polyunsaturates are referred to as essential fatty acids since our body is unable to produce them and they have to come from our food source or supplements.

Wishing everyone a good night sleep! ;-)

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