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Sleep Part 3: Eating to sleep?

In my previous post I discussed the ways you can manipulate your workouts to maximize sleep. In this final post about sleep, I will give you some nutritional food-for-thought that may assist you in falling and (hopefully) staying asleep.


Caffeine

Caffeine can be quite the difficult subject to approach. Some of us can’t go without it, and some of us only use it when we are in desperate need of a pick-me-up. Good news is, if you understand how caffeine works and how you can manipulate your bodies’ tolerance to it, you can better plan when you consume it.

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A few things to know about caffeine:

“Caffeine’s half-life (the time it takes to clear from your system) can range from a few hours up to 6 hours. This half-life is influenced by your genetics and even prescribed medications you may be taking.”

  • People experience an adrenaline spike when they consume caffeine. Think of adrenaline as that feeling you get when you have a heavy barbell on your back at the bottom of a squat.

  •  Caffeine’s half-life (the time it takes to clear from your system) can range from a few hours up to 6 hours. This half-life is influenced by your genetics and even prescribed medications you may be taking.

  • Consider avoiding caffeine for at least four hours before bed, especially if you are unused to the affects of caffeine on your body. Again, this amount of time may change depending on your genetics and any medications you are taking.

  • To build a tolerance to the effects of caffeine, studies suggest you may need to dose with 200 mg or more a day. This tolerance shortens the half-life of caffeine, which lessens the length of time it is affecting your system. For reference, one 8 oz cup of coffee has around 95 mg. This caffeine should still be consumed earlier in the day to avoid impacting sleep.

  • Even if you have developed a tolerance to caffeine and are able to sleep after drinking it, be aware that caffeine will still block adenosine receptors, which are implicated in allowing you to achieve a good night’s sleep.


Food + Supplements

“Of course, it is always better to get these nutrients from real food rather than supplementation.”

While it’s pretty evident that eating copious amounts of food before bed can disrupt sleep, there are ways you can manipulate food or supplementation in order to help you sleep better.

  • Sources of Vitamin D (think sunlight) and omega-3 (think fish and oils) provide nutrients that involve regulating your body’s production of serotonin (sleep) hormone. Of course, it is always better to get these nutrients from real food rather than supplementation. I personally supplement with about 5,000 IU of Thorne’s Vitamin D-3 nearly every night and find that I sleep better and am better able to combat illness. On heavy workout days I also supplement with Nordic Natural’s fish oil, which helps battle inflammation and leaves me less sore and more refreshed the next morning.

Related:How to Choose Nutrition Supplements; Protein Shake Edition

  • Fruit might help you go to sleep! Studies show that eating a piece or two of fruit about an hour before bed may help you sleep due to the energy release from the fructose and the hunger-satiating effect of fiber and water.

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  • Consuming Magnesium-rich foods like nuts and leafy vegetables may also aid in better sleep. Most people in the Western world are magnesium deficient, especially if their diet is comprised primarily of grains. When consumed or taken as a supplement, studies have shown increased sleep quality in people who report difficulty sleeping. I personally take about 250mg of Thorne’s magnesium citrate. As an athlete, I also find that I recover better the next morning.

While this list certainly isn’t exhaustive, I wanted to give you some easy tips and tricks to help get a good night’s sleep. If you have any questions or suggestions of your own, feel free to reach out to me at jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com.

Until next time, sleep well!

Jasmine Gerritsen

Coach/Trainer

jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com