Getting enough quality sleep doesn’t always rank top priority when your work-life balance feels like a tightrope act. Yet sleep is incredibly important, vital even, to health and wellbeing. In fact, a healthy diet, quality sleep, and frequent exercise are the three most important factors in protecting you from heart disease, cancer, and feeling rundown. With over one third of Americans running on a sleep deficit, getting enough rest is a habit that many of us could work to strengthen. Quality sleep, 7-9 hours for the average adult, gives your body the time it needs to power down other processes like digestion in favor of repairing muscles, cleansing organs, and recharging your brain so you can wake up refreshed. Proper sleep is also linked to a better metabolism, promoting weight loss, and fighting depression.
Sticking to a diet of whole foods with plenty of clean protein is your best bet in ensuring complete nutrition and supporting healthy, restful sleep. Diets high in fiber, lean protein, and whole foods can contribute to deeper sleep. Now, filling your plate with seasonal produce and your blender with organic plant based protein has even more delicious benefits. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, and refined sugars will go a long way in helping your body feel great and get to sleep. Replace these items with whole foods high in fiber and sleep-promoting nutrients and see the difference!
How you start the day is just as important as how you end it in terms of quality sleep. A protein rich breakfast, like this smoothie or a bowl of protein oatmeal, provides your body with the building blocks it needs to regulate your metabolism, feel full, focus, and get through the day without feeling run down. Make sure clean protein is a key component of your snacks and meals during the day as well as your dinner to ensure your body is ready to repair and recover during its REM cycle instead of tossing and turning.
Omega 3 fatty acids are linked to improved sleep, better brain function, and are anti-inflammatory. Found in walnuts, hemp, flax, and chia seeds, they also provide cholesterol free healthy fats and additional protein so sprinkle them over your favorite smoothie bowls, on salads, yogurt, or oatmeal. Research also shows that Omega 3s are great for brain function and heart health, making them pretty invaluable no matter the time of day.
Grass fed whey protein powder, hummus, and turkey may taste completely different but they do have tryptophan and protein in common. Research links foods rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that triggers the brain’s production of sleep-inducing serotonin, to helping the body fall asleep and stay that way through the night. Incorporate a couple of these sources into your dinner or light bedtime snack to give your brain’s serotonin production a little boost.
If you need a snack before bed, a small handful of raw or roasted almonds can stave off hunger throughout the night and help your brain prepare for sleep. A natural source of protein, fiber, healthy fats, melatonin, and magnesium, this triple almond smoothie or Orgain Almond protein milk may be just what you need to kick off your nightly wind down routine. Tart cherries are another source of melatonin and this cherry banana smoothie bowl boasts the added benefits of tryptophan, magnesium, and potassium from the humble banana… top it with omega 3 rich chia seeds for a super sleep promoting dessert!