Sleep: restorative at its best and elusive at its worst. If you relate to the latter of the two, you’ve got a lot of company. It’s estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep-related problem. Unsurprisingly, our modern culture of go-go-go undervalues quality sleep, forgetting that sleep is crucial for a variety of functions in our body. Sleep is foundational to our ability to crush at life and functions in our body in the following ways:
- Brain processing, memory formation, and consolidation
- Energy conservation
- Tissue healing and growth
- Immune system function
- Synaptic plasticity or our ability to make new connections in our brain
- Detoxification of the brain and other parts of the body
- Microbiome management
Crazy, right? So, now that you know just how important a restful, restorative night’s sleep is, let’s talk about four important vitamins and minerals associated with better sleep. This is just the tip of the iceberg when improving sleep, but a good start nonetheless!
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with fewer sleeping hours and sleep that is less restful and restorative. It is also linked to increased inflammation of the nose and nostril that we see in individuals suffering from sleep apnea and sleep disturbance. The best way to consume vitamin D? Sunshine! Not only does that magical star help our bodies make the usable form of vitamin D, it also helps regulate our circadian rhythm—the process our bodies use to understand time of day in order to prioritize certain functions and tell us when to sleep. Direct sunlight exposure plays a huge role in the timely release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. So, take a twenty minute walk outside early in the day to soak up that vitamin D and start sleeping deeper and longer. Up your intake even more by consuming foods like wild-caught salmon, mackerel, fish roe, liver, and pasture-raised eggs. I also love Empirica’s D3/K2 supplement, especially when I can’t get enough sun throughout the day. D3 and K2 work synergistically, allowing for maximum benefits of each vitamin.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
B vitamins are critical in energy metabolism, but one in particular is the shining star when it comes to restful, restorative sleep. B6, or pyridoxine, is vital for producing feel-good neurotransmitters—chemicals that carry signals from one nerve cell to another—like GABA, serotonin, and melatonin, all of which play huge roles in high quality sleep. You can find B6 in a variety of foods including red meat, poultry, leafy and root vegetables, bananas, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Empirica’s Vital Bs also provide a substantial amount of B6 in its physiologically active form making it easier to absorb and use in the body. Try adding Vital Bs early in the day to make sure you’re getting enough!
This powerhouse mineral is responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, meaning its presence is necessary to make the reactions happen in a timely manner. Its list of functions is exhaustive, but in a nutshell: magnesium helps our bodies and brains relax! When it comes to sleep, magnesium regulates melatonin—the hormone that tells our body it’s time to sleep. It tells our nerves to chill out, in turn preparing us for a beautiful night of sleep. You can find magnesium in green vegetables, nuts and seeds, fish, legumes, and avocado. I’m also a huge fan of Empirica’s Tri-Mag because it provides three incredible forms of magnesium to support the variety of roles it plays in the body. Tri-Mag delivers magnesium l-threonate, a form shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. When it crosses that barrier, our brains respond with more clarity and less stimulation meaning better rest, faster.
A mineral known for bone health aids in restful sleep? That’s right! When in balance with magnesium, calcium helps our brains use the amino acid tryptophan to make the sleep hormone melatonin. Increase your calcium intake by consuming more dark green vegetables, sesame seeds, whole sardines, pasture-raised lamb, and squash.
The dance our bodies play inside is miraculous, isn’t it? A little knowledge about those dancers will go a long way in your journey to sound, rejuvenating sleep. Happy dreaming!