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Sleeping for Healing
Quality of sleep and sufficient amounts of sleep is critical when your body is healing. During sleep, heals and restores all the tiny wears and tears your body endured that day, which is critical for your overall health. An insufficient amount of quality sleep leads to your brain and body not getting the chance to slow down and direct more energy towards the process of recovery. This negatively affects your energy levels, mood, concentration, and physical functioning. Simply put, like neuroscience professor and author of “Why We Sleep” Matthew Walker states: “the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span.” 
It is critical that we find the best practices to improve the quality of our sleep. One of the ways to do this is to make changes in your diet, as some foods can promote good sleep. There are certain nutrients that optimize the healing response when taking prior to sleep. Protein and melatonin being the most prominent. Protein ingested immediately before sleep stimulates muscle protein synthesis, which means that protein is produced to repair muscle damage caused by intense exercise. Melatonin is a hormone that can help regulate the timing of sleep and the sleep-wake cycle. But what are specific foods that you can take prior to sleep that will optimize your sleep, in order to enhance the body’s healing response?
Best Foods for Better Sleep
Nuts: Almonds & Walnuts
Nuts like almonds and walnuts are good food for sleep. These nuts contain high doses of melatonin, which helps regulate your internal clock and the sleep-wake cycle. They also contain magnesium and calcium, both nutrients that help encourage muscle relaxation and sleep. Walnuts are made up of omega-3 fatty acid, which contributes to better sleep. 
Even though research on the effect that consuming almonds and walnuts have on the quality of sleep are limited, one study found that rats slept longer and experienced an increase in non-REM (NREM) sleep more deeply when they consumed 400 mg of almond extract. 
Tea: Chamomile & passionflower tea
Different kinds of teas have been found to promote sleep. One of the most common, is chamomile tea, as chamomile is traditionally seen as a remedy for insomnia. Chamomile has a calming effect that may be attributed to apigenin, a flavonoid compound which is found in abundance in chamomile tea. Apigenin seems to activate GABA A receptors, which favors sleep as it binds to receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness. 
Passionflower tea is another herbal tea that is linked to improved sleep. Similar to chamomile tea, passionflower tea also contains apigenin, which alleviates anxiety and calms the brain. This calming effect may promote sleepiness. In a study by Ngan & Conduit (2011), participants consumed a cup of passionflower tea before sleep for 7 days. After a week, this group had a significantly better sleep quality rating than the group that didn’t consume passionflower tea before bed. 
Kiwi contains many sleep-promoting nutrients, including melatonin, magnesium, calcium, folate, and potassium, which may be beneficial to optimizing sleep quality. In a study by Lin et a. (2011), 24 adults consumed 2 kiwifruits 1 hour before bed nightly for 4 weeks. After these 4 weeks, total sleep time and sleep efficiency were increased, and the participants fell asleep more quickly than when they didn’t eat anything before bed. This indicates that kiwi may improve sleep. 
Tart Cherry (Juice)
Tart cherries are rich in tryptophan, potassium, and serotonin, all compounds that influence sleep-regulation. Tart cherries have above-average concentrations of melatonin, which promotes healthy sleep. They also contain an antioxidant called polyphenols, which may influence sleep regulation. Research by Losso et al. (2018) suggests that tart cherry juice increased sleep time ad sleep efficiency. 
Fatty fish may enhance sleep quality, because they contain a high dose of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, both are involved in the body’s regulation of serotonin. Omega-3 fatty acids from regularly consuming fatty fish may boost sleep quality and help you fall asleep more quickly. Study by Hansen et al. (2014) found enhanced daily functioning and positive effects on sleep efficiency and quality after consuming 300 grams of Atlantic salmon three times per week for a period of 6 months. 
MEND is currently working with the leading experts in the field of sleep to develop and study a solution that goes beyond inducing drowsiness to supporting a more healing and restorative sleep. To learn more please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- How Does Your Body Heal During Sleep?
- Walker, M. (2018). Why we sleep. Penguin Books
- The Best Foods to Help You Sleep
- Which foods can help you sleep?
- Abdollahnejad, F., Mosaddegh, M., Kamalinejad, M. et al. (2016). Investigation of sedative and hypnotic effects of Amygdalus communis L. extract: behavioral assessments and EEG studies on rat. J Nat Med 70, 190–197. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11418-015-0958-9
- Srivastava, J. K., Shankar, E., & Gupta, S. (2010). Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Molecular medicine reports, 3(6), 895–901. https://doi.org/10.3892/mmr.2010.377
- Elsas, S. M., Rossi, D. J., Raber, J., White, G., Seeley, C. A., Gregory, W. L., Mohr, C., Pfankuch, T., & Soumyanath, A. (2010). Passiflora incarnata L. (Passionflower) extracts elicit GABA currents in hippocampal neurons in vitro, and show anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo, varying with extraction method. Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology, 17(12), 940–949. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2010.03.002
- Ngan, A., & Conduit, R. (2011). A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytotherapy Research: PTR, 25(8), 1153–1159. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.3400
- Lin, H. H., Tsai, P. S., Fang, S. C., & Liu, J. F. (2011). Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems. Asai Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 20(2), 169-174.
- Losso, J. N., Finley, J. W., Karki, N., Liu, A. G., Prudente, A., Tipton, R., Yu, Y., & Greenway, F. L. (2018). Pilot Study of the Tart Cherry Juice for the Treatment of Insomnia and Investigation of Mechanisms. American Journal of Therapeutics, 25(2), e194–e201. https://doi.org/10.1097/MJT.0000000000000584
- Hansen, A. L., Dahl, L., Olson, G., Thornton, D., Graff, I. E., Frøyland, L., Thayer, J. F., & Pallesen, S. (2014). Fish consumption, sleep, daily functioning, and heart rate variability. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine : JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 10(5), 567–575. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.3714
- The 6 Best Bedtime Teas That Help You Sleep