Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.– Thomas Dekker (1572–1632), Elizabethan poet and dramatist
There is so much truth in this proverb. Getting a good amount of rest at night is essential for the human body. During this time, we’re not only recovering physically but also mentally. But that does not mean that our brain is inactive during that time. It is processing all pieces of information that are received during the day so they can be filed away in our memory 1. Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself, after a good amount of sleep, your mind is rearranged and thoughts are clearer. That’s why we prefer to make decisions after sleeping on it a night.
Chronic sleep deprivation can not only cause fatigue, tiredness, clumsiness, and weight fluctuation, it also adversely affects the brain and cognitive function2. So it’s advised to get at least 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep per night. However, the quality and quantity of sleep can be impaired by nutrient deficiencies and surpluses. Here are key nutrients that can affect your nightly recovery.
Studies have shown that low Vitamin D levels can impair sleep quality and fixing the Vitamin D deficiency through supplementation has been shown to improve it. However, Very high blood values may even impair subjective sleep quality3. It seems sensible to optimize your Vitamin D levels based on blood tests in order to get the right amount for an optimal sleeping pattern:
Research suggests that Magnesium has some sedative-like effects and therefore it also plays a role. It’s especially correlated to the late midpoint of sleep which means that people with the highest magnesium intake reached their sleep midpoint the earliest4. Other studies have shown that Magnesium supplementation can improve slow-wave sleep in older persons which can normalize age-related changes in sleep quality5. Furthermore, sleeping only 80% of normal length for several weeks can reduce blood levels of magnesium which takes away from your optimal body function6.
…after a good amount of sleep, your mind is rearranged and thoughts are clearer
Melatonin is not an actual nutrient but the major hormone in the human body to regulate sleep. However, Melatonin can also be taken as a dietary supplement to induce and regulate sleep. The endogenous production of this neurohormone it mainly regulated by light exposure and the sleep-wake cycle. Especially blue light waves can inhibit melatonin production and therefore disturb healthy sleep. Nowadays, the majority of us are sitting in front of screens all day long and use them until close to bedtime. While nature’s light sources are slowly dimming by the end of the day, screens still expose us to bright light, especially blue waves. To address the issue, blue light blocking applications or glasses can be used. Another valuable method can be melatonin supplementation.7
L-Theanine is an amino acid, naturally found in small amounts in green tea. It is known for its ability to promote relaxation without making you tired as well as increasing attention when combined with caffeine. Due to its relaxation effects, L-Theanine is also able to promote sleep quality and recovery8.
: Rasch, B. and Born, J., 2013. About Sleeps Role in Memory. Physiological reviews, 93(2), pp.681-766.
: Goel, N., Basner, M., Rao, H. and Dinges, D.F., 2013. Circadian rhythms, sleep deprivation, and human performance. Progress in molecular biology and translational science, 119, p.155.
: de Oliveira, D.L., Hirotsu, C., Tufik, S. and Andersen, M.L., 2017. The interfaces between vitamin D, sleep and pain. Journal of Endocrinology, 234(1), pp.R23-R36.
: Sato-Mito, Natsuko, et al. “The midpoint of sleep is associated with dietary intake and dietary behavior among young Japanese women.” Sleep medicine 12.3 (2011): 289-294.
: Held, K., et al. “Oral Mg2+ supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans.” Pharmacopsychiatry 35.04 (2002): 135-143.
: Takase, Bonpei, et al. “Effect of chronic stress and sleep deprivation on both flow‐mediated dilation in the brachial artery and the intracellular magnesium level in humans.” Clinical cardiology 27.4 (2004): 223-227.
: Emet, Mucahit, et al. “A review of melatonin, its receptors and drugs.” The Eurasian journal of medicine 48.2 (2016): 135.
: Türközü, Duygu, and Nevin Şanlier. “L-theanine, unique amino acid of tea, and its metabolism, health effects, and safety.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 57.8 (2017): 1681-1687.