Three out of four people have implemented at least one measure to deal with your sleep problems, according to recent research by the National Sleep and Surveillance Institute (INSV). Among them, 23% adjusted your diet… Correctly, as Florence Thorez explains to us, nutritionist-nutritionist. Because our food actually has a role in melatonin synthesis, nicknamed the “sleep hormone”, which impacts the regulation of our circadian cycle. So what are the most interesting foods to eat sleep better ? We take stock.
What is melatonin and what is its function?
Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally by the pineal gland of the brain (epiphysis), in response to darkness. As noted above, it plays a crucial role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, signaling the body when the time is right to fall asleep. There melatonin thus contributes to synchronize our internal biological clock.
How is this sleep hormone synthesized?
Melatonin production is influenced by factors such as exposure to light, regularity of sleep schedules and eating habits. This sleep hormone is synthesized from serotonina neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep and appetite, produced thanks to tryptophanan amino acid found only in food, explains Florence Thorez.
In detail, tryptophan is converted into 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) by an enzyme called tryptophan hydroxylase. It is then decarboxylated and converted into serotonin. At the end of the day, when the light decreases, this serotonin is converted into melatonin through several enzymatic steps.
What foods are richest in melatonin?
For Florence Thorez, a clarification is necessary… “There is no no magic foods that allow you to fall asleep in just a few minutes. Some food families together with good lifestyle habits can, however, be beneficial.”
Focus on tryptophan!
As you may have understood, tryptophan is essential for the production of serotonin which, in turn, is necessary for the synthesis of melatonin. Fact that a diet rich in tryptophan influences the level of serotonin and melatonin in the body, which can affect sleep and mood. “On the contrary, a diet rich in proteins runs the risk of encouraging vigilance”, specifies the nutritionist-nutritionist.
Magnesium, zinc and B vitamins
O magnesiumO zinc and the vitamins B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine) and B9 (folic acid) are also involved in numerous biochemical reactions that regulate sleep:
- O magnesium promotes muscle relaxation, acts on the nervous system to calm brain activity and participates in the regulation of melatonin.
- O zinc promotes the regulation of melatonin, participates in the interaction with the neurotransmitter GABA to reduce arousal and contributes to general energy metabolism.
- Niacin It is essential for the synthesis of serotonin and participates in the body’s general energy metabolism.
- Pyridoxine contributes to the production of serotonin and melatonin, as well as to the proper functioning of the nervous system.
- I’folic acid is involved in serotonin synthesis and tryptophan metabolism, thereby promoting serotonin synthesis.
Starchy foods for dinner to sleep well?
Contrary to what we often hear, it is entirely possible to eat starchy foods at night! “Foods rich in starch (rice, semolina, pasta, wheat, bulgur, corn, etc.) are rich in carbohydrates, which increase insulin level. However, insulin promotes the passage of tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier”, he explains.
In other words, eating a small portion of starchy foods at dinner really promotes falling asleep. The ideal dish for dinner, according to Florence Thorez? Half vegetables, a quarter starch and a quarter proteins (compared to a third of vegetables, a third of starchy foods and a third of proteins at lunchtime).
Which foods are richest in tryptophan?
Tryptophan is present in limited quantities in many products of animal or vegetable origin:
Remember that to maximize the effect of tryptophan on the production of serotonin and melatonin, it is recommended to consume carbohydrate-rich foods (cereals, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes).
Which foods are richest in magnesium?
- There lettuce and the navy beans ;
- O wakame and theagar-agar ;
- O rice bran AND wheatO flax, oats ;
- O cocoa (dark chocolate) ;
- O basilthere mintI’oreganoO saffron ;
- O Brazil nutsO almonds and the cashew nut ;
- O cumin, fennel, sunflower, sesame and sizzle ;
- certain green leafy vegetables, such as spinachO cabbage and the broccoli ;
- certain fruits like datesO bananasI’attorney and the figs ;
- O Seafood (oysters, mussels, clams) and certain shellfish in smaller quantities, such as shrimp ;
What foods are richest in zinc?
The foods richest in zinc are shellfish and Seafood (oysters, crab and lobster), offal (calf liver), meat (beef, veal, lamb) and cheeses (morbier, maroilles, Mont d’Or, etc.). Then come the plant sources of zinc: nuts (walnuts, pine nuts), unrefined cereals is right dried vegetables like coral lentils.
Which foods are richest in vitamin B3?
Which foods are richest in vitamin B6?
Pyridoxine is found in very small quantities in Royal jellyO rice brandried sage and mint, paprika, blondeO rosemary and dried basilO dried herbs of Provencethere dehydrated baker’s yeastO pistachiosI’baked garlic, etc.
Which foods are richest in vitamin B9?
Beware of dietary supplements based on unnatural melatonin!
In fact, there are dietary supplements based on melatonin. However, they must be used punctually, under the supervision of a healthcare professional, respecting the recommended doses !
As ANSES highlighted in a press release published in April 2018 (source 2), taking food supplement melatonin-based supplements may have more or less serious side effects, such as headache, dizziness, drowsiness, nightmares, irritabilitybut also neurological problems (tremors, migraines) and gastroenterological disorders (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain).
She therefore advises people suffering from inflammatory or autoimmune diseasesfor pregnant or breastfeeding women, children AND for teenagers Do not consume melatonin in the form of dietary supplements. It also recommends prior medical advice for people with epilepsy, asthma, who suffer from mood, behavioral or personality disorders or after drug treatment. Conclusion? Better try to adapt your diet !
Reminder: what routine helps you sleep easily?
As Armelle Rancillac, neuroscience researcher at Inserm and the Collège de France, reminded us in a previous articleit’s essential establish a good sleep routine to sleep better. And this is prepared as soon as you wake up!
- To establish regular meals, bedtime and wake-up time.
- Before going to bed, favor relaxing activities like reading a book or meditating, set a digital curfew to avoid blue light from screens.
- Create a conducive sleeping environment : reduce the light intensity in your bedroom, make sure it is quiet, cool enough and don’t hesitate to invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Limit heavy meals, caffeine and other stimulants (energy drinks, soft drinks, coffee, tea, etc.) before bed and until the afternoon.
- Expose yourself to natural lightespecially in the morning, to reset the circadian clock.
- Practice regular physical activity during the daypreferably outside.
- If you return to stress management techniquessuch as meditation, deep breathing or yoga to learn to release mental and physical tension.
- Avoid looking at the time when you are in bedas it can increase sleep-related stress.
And if your sleep problems persist, see a professional to discuss your sleep habits and any underlying issues!