Jan 7
Lady sleeping on pillow

Can Nutrition Help You Get a Good Night’s Rest?

Sleep disorders have become a serious health crisis for adults in our country, especially for older adults.  From sleep apnea to insomnia, the lack of a good night’s rest has been linked to health conditions such as strokes, diabetes, irregular heart beat and high blood pressure. A study from the University of Pennsylvania may offer hope. Researchers from this institution looked at the impact nutrition and vitamins may have on sleep.

Here’s what investigators have to say.

Can a Well Balanced, Nutrient Rich Diet Help You Sleep Better?

The Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania looked at a variety of factors they believe might influence sleep. Among them was the role a healthy, well-balanced diet plays.

Dietary Nutrients Associated with Short and Long Sleep Duration” was published in the journal, Appetite. It shared interesting information on the link between sleep duration and nutrition:

  • The Leptin Factor: Leptin is a hormone believed to be responsible for sending your brain the “full” signal. When a person doesn’t get the amount of sleep their body requires, the level of Leptin in the body falls. At the same time levels of Ghrelin, the body’s natural appetite stimulant, rise.
  • Lauric Acid in the Diet: Diets rich in Lauric acid are associated with a healthier cardiovascular system. Researchers believe Lauric acid helps promote healthy cholesterol levels in the body. People with a healthy cardiovascular system tend to sleep better.
  • Lycopene and Vitamin C: The study also revealed that people who consume the lowest amounts of Lycopene and vitamin C also have the shortest sleep durations. Shorter sleep increases the body’s appetite for unhealthy, high fat and high carbohydrate foods.
  • Too Much Sleep: Just as dangerous as too little sleep is sleeping too much. People who spend too much time sleeping are at risk for health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Researchers believe it is because they are more likely to be sedentary and develop unhealthy eating habits.

What does this mean for seniors who are desperate for a good night of sleep?

Foods Rich in Sleep-Promoting Vitamins and Minerals

Incorporating foods rich in vitamin C, Lauric acid, and lycopene might help you improve both the quality and duration of your sleep..

Here are a few suggestions on how you can do that:

  • Vitamin C: Foods with high amounts of vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, papaya, kale, parsley, broccoli, bell pepper, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
  • Lauric Acid: Coconut oil, cinnamon oil, and palm kernel oil are all rich in Lauric acid; milk, Gouda cheese and cheddar cheese are beneficial as well.
  • Lycopene: Grapefruit, watermelon, tomatoes, red cabbage and asparagus are good ones to incorporate in to your diet, as are dried parsley and dried basil.

The bottom line is that sleep is an important part of successful aging. If you just can’t seem to get a full night of quality sleep, speak with your primary care physician. They can help evaluate you for other health conditions, including sleep apnea, which may be preventing you from getting enough shut eye each night.

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