There are so many areas of nutrition that I’m fascinated by and sleep is definitely one of them! How many of us think about the impact of our diet and lifestyle and the effect it has on our sleep? The average person spends one third of their lifetime sleeping, so if we’re going to spend that much time doing it, I think we might as well make sure that we’re doing it properly.
Diet and lifestyle can play havoc with our sleep (think caffeine, alcohol, fatty/spicy/heavy late night meals, Instagram in bed.. yep I’m guilty of that one too!) and small changes can make a big difference to your quality of sleep. Lifestyle changes are equally as important as the food we eat and small changes to your sleep routine such as meditation or reading can make a big difference. Nutrients play a big part in helping to regulate sleep and melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulation of our sleep cycles. Melatonin however, as with most physiological functions in the body, has a few essential cofactor nutrients for optimum function. The melatonin pathway follows closely on from the serotonin pathway, the hormone responsible for mood regulation, behaviour, appetite, digestion and sexual function. Essentially, if you’ve got the right nutrients for serotonin production, you are on the right track for melatonin.. just throw some darkness into the mix and you’re well on your way.
Some specific foods are great sources of melatonin such as rice, tart cherries, walnuts and tomatoes, but it’s good to know that the nutrients that support the serotonin pathway also help to boost melatonin production utilising the amino acid tryptophan and cofactor nutrients from vitamins and minerals B3, B6, vitamin C, calcium, iron, folic acid, zinc and magnesium. All of these nutrients work together to regulate your serotonin and melatonin pathway and I’ve developed a recipe focusing on sleep nutrition to help you on your way.
The Sleepy Bowl - Serves 2
½ cup black rice
1 small sweet potato
12 broccoli florets
2 tbsp soy or tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
1-2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp ground cumin
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp water
Cook rice according to instructions.
Add sesame oil and soy sauce to a bowl and mix together. Slice the tofu and place in the bowl to marinate in the mixture. Then place onto a baking tray and top with sesame seeds and place into the oven.
Add the broccoli and sweet potato to the baking tray to cook with the tofu for approx 30 minutes until the tofu is browned and the vegetables are cooked through.
Peel carrots and thinly slice into ribbons.
To make the dressing add the ingredients together and mix until smooth.
When all ingredients are cooked, place into a bowl and serve with the dressing.
I hope this helps you on your way to a better night’s sleep and for more nutrient rich recipes, check out my website www.amysavagenutrition.com.