In today's fast-paced world, it seems to be more and more challenging to get a good night’s rest. And while it may not seem like a big deal to cut back on the number of hours you sleep, the consequences can negatively impact your overall health and well-being.
Even though experts recommend an average of 7 hours of sleep per night, it might seem difficult to reach this number without some additional help. While most of us are familiar with sleep aids like melatonin and limiting blue light before bed, what you eat affects how well you sleep at night.
In this article, we are throwing back the sheets on sleep and turning to science to better understand how nutrition plays a role in the quality and duration of your nightly slumber. But before we get to these nutrition strategies, let’s first understand why sleep is essential and how deprivation impacts different facets of your health.
Sleep plays a crucial role in recharging both your body and mind. During sleep, your body undergoes vital restorative processes, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalized upon awakening. However, the significance of sleep extends far beyond rejuvenation, as studies show that insufficient sleep can hinder your ability to concentrate, think clearly, and effectively process memories [ 1
Sleep is also vital to the recovery process, as it facilitates physical and mental restoration. It’s when your body repairs tissues, including muscles damaged during exercise, and also helps to regulate hormones like cortisol and growth hormone, which play significant roles in muscle growth and recovery [ 2 3 4
No, 6 hours of sleep isn’t enough, as experts recommend getting at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night for optimal health and well-being [ 5
While it may not seem like a big deal to skimp on sleep, a lack of zzzs can wreak havoc on your health. Here’s what science has to say about the negative implications of sleep deprivation.
Emerging research suggests a correlation between sleep problems and obesity, as both the quantity and quality of sleep can impact body weight, hormones, and metabolism.
A few studies found that people with abnormal sleep patterns experienced negative changes in their behavior and energy metabolism, which may have contributed to weight gain and the development of obesity [ 6 7
While it’s estimated that restricting sleep for up to 5 days can lead to short-term weight gain, research also shows that short sleep duration may be associated with an increase in ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and a decrease in leptin (the “satiating hormone”) [ 8 8
8]. This can lead to increased food intake and possible weight gain [
Furthermore, research shows that sleep disturbance can negatively impact hormonal rhythms and metabolism, which have been associated with obesity, insulin insensitivity, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, and appetite dysregulation [ 2
Getting enough hours of high-quality sleep fosters attention and concentration, so without proper sleep, your brain struggles to function properly, and you might experience poor mood, impaired motor skills, and decreased alertness [ 9 10 11
Poor quality sleep doesn’t just affect your brain – it also hurts athletic performance, as it can cause pre-training fatigue, elongate recovery times, and increase perceived exertion during exercise [ 12 13 14
Experts estimate that just one night of sleep deprivation can reduce muscle protein synthesis in athletes by 18% [ 15 16 17
15]. And since inadequate sleep can also increase the risk of injury and illness and negatively affect endurance, coordination, reaction time, mood, motivation, and cognition, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye to maximize your gains [
Chronic sleep deprivation can also wreak havoc on your glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, both of which are crucial factors in the development of diabetes [ 18
18]. Poor sleep quality and the presence of sleep disorders compound the risk, potentially exacerbating metabolic dysfunction and increasing the vulnerability to diabetes.
Research continues to show that irregular and poor-quality sleep can significantly increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease [ 19 20
19]. Irregular sleep patterns disrupt the body's natural circadian rhythm, leading to detrimental effects on cardiovascular health. Also, poor-quality sleep can contribute to increased inflammation and elevated blood pressure, which can impact heart health [
Even though experts recommend a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night, achieving this number can sometimes be difficult, as many people have trouble falling (or staying) asleep. While prescription sleep medications may be helpful for some people, a few nutrition strategies can also help.
Studies show that getting adequate protein throughout the day can significantly improve sleep quality [ 21 22
21]. Some findings also suggest that regular exercise at least twice a week for 30 minutes or longer combined with high protein intake can contribute to good sleep quality [
Adults: 0.8-1.2 g/kg/day
Endurance athletes: 1.2-2 g of protein/kg of body weight/day, depending on training volume and intensity.
Elo Smart Recovery is the world’s most personalized recovery product, offering a combination of high-quality protein, functional nutrient boosts such as super greens and turmeric, and real-time dosing recommendations tailored to your needs and workout.
Your unique Smart Recovery blend is determined using a combination of data from wearables and activity apps, dietary preferences, and goals. Your information is then matched with the latest scientific research to determine a blend of ingredients that both maximizes post-workout recovery and supports your health goals (including better sleep).
Rather than relying on prescription sleep medications, natural supplements can help you achieve a full night’s sleep. Here are some of the best sleep supplements
best sleep supplements, according to science.
Tart cherry juice: Tart cherry juice is a rich source of antioxidants, nutrients, and beneficial plant compounds and has been reported to have a positive effect on insomnia [ 25
Vitamin D: Vitamin D 26
Vitamin Dis an essential nutrient that has been linked to bone health, immunity, and cancer. However, research shows that a deficiency may be associated with sleep disorders and poor sleep quality; thus, supplementation may be helpful [
Omega 3: Omega-3s 27
Omega-3sare considered to be essential nutrients that must be consumed through diet and supplements. While these fatty acids are incredibly beneficial for overall health, studies show that they might also be associated with better sleep quality [
Calcium: Calcium 28
Calciumis a mineral that has many essential functions in the body, including muscle contraction, blood pressure levels, and sleep regulation. Interestingly, research suggests that lower serum calcium levels may be associated with restless sleep, and that supplementation may be useful [
Magnesium: Magnesium 29 Elo Smart Recovery
Magnesiumis an essential mineral that helps relax muscles, quiet the mind, and regulate melatonin production. Studies have found that magnesium intake was associated with sleep quality and duration [
29]. This is also a boost offering with
Elo Smart Recovery.
Studies have consistently shown that eating too close to bedtime (or within 3 hours of going to sleep) can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to more awakenings during the night [ 30 31
30]. Research also suggests that eating refined carbohydrates and sugar can result in an increased number of awakenings during sleep [
To help increase sleep quality, try cutting back (or abstaining) from stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, simple carbs, or sugary foods.
Strong sleep hygiene refers to having a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Here are some tips to improve poor sleep hygiene so you can wake up feeling rested.
Listen to sleep music
Practice sleep meditation
Try the Apple watch sleep tracker
Establish a realistic bedtime
Maintain comfortable temperature settings and low light levels in your bedroom
Keep a comfortable sleep environment (i.e. high-quality mattress, pillows, and sheets)
Consider a “screen ban” on televisions and electronic devices in your bedroom
Exercise during the day
Good sleep hygiene is crucial for everyone, as sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your mood, cognition, energy levels, and athletic performance and increase your risks for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. While prescription sleep medications can help you achieve quality shut-eye, specific nutrition strategies (like eating more protein, trying supplements, and limiting certain foods) can help you achieve a full night’s sleep.
Disclaimer: The text, images, videos, and other media on this page are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to treat, diagnose, or replace personalized medical care.
Studies show that insufficient sleep can hinder your ability to concentrate, think clearly, and effectively process memories [ 1
Experts recommend getting at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night for optimal health and well-being [ 5
Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of obesity and weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as poor mood, impaired motor skills, and decreased alertness.
Certain nutrition strategies (like eating more protein, trying certain supplements, and limiting food stimulants) can greatly improve your sleep quality.
Your custom Elo Smart Recovery is formulated with nutrient boosts made just for your recovery and health goals, including better sleep.
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