Four Vitamins and Minerals for a Good Night’s Sleep

Our whole lives, we have been told by parents, doctors, teachers, the media, and even our government that it is very important to incorporate foods into our diets that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals support our bodies’ functions by increasing the efficiency of our bodies’ systems. Sleep is one of our most important functions because it allows us to rest, renew, and detoxify during the night. A good, deep rest also supports cell regeneration.

vitamins-521368_640

Some vitamins and minerals that support sleep are Vitamin D, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and potassium.

images-1

Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to cause daytime sleepiness. As our modern lives get busier, we are getting outside less than previous generations. Less time outside means we are getting less exposure to the sun, and therefore, not producing enough Vitamin D.

i__m_walking_on_sunshine_by_faerie_angel

You can easily and naturally increase your Vitamin D by spending a bit more time outside, though it takes 2-3 months of regular sun exposure to build up the Vitamin D your body needs. Other options include adding fortified cereal or milk to your diet or taking a Vitamin D supplement.

bread-587597_640

Magnesium and Vitamin B6 are important minerals our bodies need for a good night’s rest. Both nutrients are imperative to the production of melatonin, a hormone produced by our bodies to help us feel sleepy. Magnesium deficiency can lead to insomnia. Foods rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens, beans and various nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Salmon, halibut, and tuna are good sources of Vitamin B6.

78_420c

Potassium has been shown to help people stay asleep and have a deeper, more restful sleep. Though we think of bananas as a potassium-rich option, winter squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and yogurt provide more potassium per serving.

Making sure you are getting enough of these four vitamins and minerals will help you fall asleep faster and sleep better and longer.

Check out the following articles for more information on the benefits of adding these vitamins and minerals to your daily diet.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3501666/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/10686624/Vitamin-D-could-it-stop-modern-diseases.html

http://www.newswise.com/articles/scientists-identify-second-sleep-gene

Nature’s Sleep Aids

Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? One of the easiest ways to combat insomnia and sleeplessness is to utilize the benefits of natural essential oils. Whether you apply the oils topically, add them to a warm bath, diffuse them, or spritz* them onto your pillowcase or eyemask, certain essential oils provide relief for insomnia and aid in falling and staying asleep.

Lavender

lavender By now, many people know that lavender helps to soothe and relax tired minds and muscles. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders.” It is also beneficial as a bug repellent and antibiotic, for all you avid campers.

 Ylang Ylang

imagesThis essential oil is one of my favorites for relaxation, probably because of its fragrant floral notes. It reduces stress and relaxes the nerves. I like to mix a couple drops of this with lavender or chamomile for added benefits.

 Roman Chamomile

chamomile-401490_640Roman Chamomile has a sweet, fruity aroma. It has a calming effect, and is great to diffuse for a soothing and peaceful environment, i.e., one that promotes and supports sleep.

 Bergamot

7339944092_3463564e14_o_d

Bergamot is a good choice for someone who loves citrus scents, but it is much more calming than the more stimulating oils of grapefruit or tangerine. It is great for “clearing your head” in preparation for a peaceful night’s rest.

Vetiver

Vetiveria_zizanoides_dsc07810

This essential oil is extracted from the root of the vetiver plant. It has a warm, earthy scent, and promotes sleep while also relieving stress and muscle tension.

* I recommend adding a couple drops of essential oil to a water-based spritzer so the oil does not stain your bed linens.

Benefits of a Cool Sleeping Environment

Igloo_outside

Recent studies have found a correlation between cooler sleeping environments and metabolic health, relating to the volume of “brown fat” that is stored in a person’s body.

“Brown fat” is one of two types of fat found in mammals, along with the more common “white fat.” An abundance of brown fat is found in newborns and hibernating mammals, generating body heat for those who do not shiver.

Research has shown that this type of fat is metabolically active, unlike white fat. It takes sugar out of the bloodstream to burn calories and maintain the body’s core temperature.

It was previously thought that adults didn’t have brown fat stores in their bodies, but recent studies have detected small amounts stored in their necks and upper backs.

In a new study, five healthy male adults volunteered to sleep in climate-controlled rooms over the course of four months. Their blood-sugar and insulin levels were tracked throughout, along with their caloric expenditures. At the end of each month, they measured the amount of brown fat found in their bodies.

After four weeks of sleeping in cooler temperatures (66º F), the volume of brown fat had almost doubled, and improved insulin sensitivity was also seen.

By sleeping in a cooler room, adults could over time add to their stores of brown fat and lessen their risk for diabetes and other metabolic health problems.

To learn more, read this article: “Let’s Cool It in the Bedroom” by Gretchen Reynolds from the New York Times.