EP 19 – Eat This: Food for Good Sleep

Do you wake up excited when you’ve slept through the night? Or maybe get your rush from thinking that you’re able to function on 4 hours a night? Countless times I’ve heard it said that you can “sleep when you’re dead” so carry on partying, drinking, staying up late and “LIVING”. However, according to the experts, that’s rather unwise advice. What I’ve dug up about sleep for this episode might show you that sleep, next to healthy eating of course, is the best way to live a long and healthy life.

Did you now that you’re more susceptible to pain when sleep deprived. And you may or may not have noticed that you’re more likely to make unhealthy food choices, without deep, uninterrupted sleep. I read that the fountain of youth comes from deep delta wave sleep, so that’s what I’m going for, with a side of support for my immunity. And for all my loyal listeners who just want to s.l.e.e.p, this is for you. 

Today on EAT THIS with Lianne, let’s talk sleep.

Listen up, men… Sleep expert Matt Walker started his TED talk about sleep with TESTICLES… specifically, that men who sleep 5 hours a night have significantly smaller testicles than those who sleep 7 hours or more. And if 4 to 5 hours a night is your usual, you’ll have testosterone of someone 10 years your senior, so a lack of sleep will age a man by a decade. And all for us ladies, sadly we don’t get away scott-free. Our reproductive health suffers, and although I’m not about to be pregnant anytime soon… wait ever, my hormones remind me that I still have all my reproductive faculties and a lack of sleep shows up on my belly, my butt, and of course those aging lines on my face. And that’s only what’s going on on the outside. While we could go down every rabbit hole of sleep and it’s importance for heart health, weight loss, memory, mood, concentration, learning, and your body’s ability to heal, today, because what we are living in the world right now, I’m going to focus in the area of immunity. 

I spoke with Sleep expert Alanna McGinn to share her wisdom, but first, you need to know this. 

If you heard in Episode 14, Bulletproof Your Immunity, I talked about the immune army and in particular our natural killer or NK cells… well, think of them as the secret service agents of your immune system. They do as they’re called, they KILL unwanted viruses, bacteria and cancer cells. These immune assassins are needed now more than ever and know that studies show that from ONE night’s sleep deprivation, not a week or a few nights in a row, but the night when you only have a four-hour stretch showed a 70% reduction in immune cell activity. WHAT?? I know all you wanted to do was binge-watch the rest of that series you got sucked into. Or you’ve got to get that report done and out on time. Unfortunately, there’s a high price to pay when we don’t get enough sleep. I say “we” because sure… there are nights when I stay up way too late to get a client’s notes finished off, do more writing, or finish off a course that I’m creating. Researching for this episode has also been a kick in the pajama pants that I need too. 

I brought a sleep expert on today’s episode because, well she’s the expert! Listen to the episode for my Q&A  with Alanna McGinn as she shares her best tips for great sleep.

What to AVOID

  • Did you know that dairy can cause insomnia? If you’re not sleeping, then cut it out for a week and see if it helps. 
  • Alcohol is a stimulant. You might fall asleep after a few drinks but really doesn’t help your overall sleep, especially a long sound long sleep. 
  • Eating a heavy and fatty meal in the evening keeps many up at night. Whether it’s that burning sensation in your chest from indigestion and heartburn, or the still churning food in your belly making you feel full for hours, it can affect your sleep. 
  • Caffeine is in chocolate, it’s in decaf tea and coffee. Not everyone is sensitive to it but if you are, ditch it. I know your coffee is your lifeblood at times, but it’s a vicious circle of not enough sleep– you need the coffee because you’re tired from not sleeping from the coffee. And back around it goes again. 
  • Avoid exercise before bed but DO exercise at some point in the day, maybe in the morning. Those endorphins can help give your mood a lift and carry you through the day and could help your sleep pattern. 
  • Many are unknowingly affected by the ‘waves’, aka EMFs, around us. Now that 5G is rolling out, I’m hearing it more. It’s even worse if there’s a modem in the room. Think about turning your wifi off overnight and see if that helps. 

Foods TO Eat

  • As for foods TO eat before bed now that I’ve told you what not to do, try oatmeal before bed because its a good magnesium source and keeps you full overnight. I’ve seen it help some people, but not all. 
  • Yes, you can try melatonin but it doesn’t work for everyone, however, it does help bolster your immunity. Foods that help the hormones and melatonin productions are fruits and veggies; tart cherries, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, pomegranate, olives, grapes, broccoli, cucumber. Grains like oats that I mentioned and nuts and seeds; walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, flaxseed. 

A word of warning about your supplements: Don’t take your vitamins like C, B12, and any of the Bs before bed. No superfoods like KID BOOST before bed. Interestingly enough, I have many people who have the kid boost and magnesium bis-glycinate on regular order from www.sproutright.com because the combo of those two have dramatically improved their sleep when just magnesium didn’t help.

Other foods specifically helpful for sleep:

Tryptophan is an amino acid (a building block of protein) that when ingested gets turned into the neurotransmitter serotonin and then converted into the hormone melatonin. Here are some of the best foods loaded with tryptophan:

  • Dairy products (milk, low-fat yogurt, cheese) note: can also cause insomnia
  • Turkey and chicken
  • Shrimp, salmon, halibut, tuna, sardines, cod
  • Nuts and seeds; flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts
  • Kidney beans, lima beans, black beans split peas, chickpeas
  • Apples, bananas, peaches, avocado
  • Spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, asparagus, onions, seaweed
  • Wheat, rice, barley, corn, oats

Calcium works with magnesium as calming minerals that really aid sleep. Magnesium is known as the sleep mineral. Excellent sources of magnesium are:

  • Dark leafy greens; baby spinach, kale, collard greens
  • Almonds, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, flaxseed, pecans
  • Wheat germ
  • Salmon, halibut, tuna, mackerel
  • Soybeans
  • Banana
  • Avocados
  • Yogurt

Calcium is found in many of these foods and also includes sardines, soy, tahini (sesame seed spread) and broccoli.

To sum it all up, SLEEP IS A NON NEGOTIABLE NECESSITY  THAT NEEDS YOUR ATTENTION RIGHT ALONGSIDE YOUR DIET. If you need more help, reach out on social media, send me a direct message or email info@liannephillipson.com

Pass this episode or any of the previous onto friends and family members, whether you know their sleep habits or not. We all need these tips and ways, so you passing it on could help without you knowing it. 

Thank you to Alanna for joining me on this episode. You can check out her This Girl Loves Sleep Podcast, or her book of This Baby Loves Sleep on goodnightsleepsite.ca 

Get more recipes in my book Sprout Right Family Food.

More recipes are available in my book Sprout Right Family Food—plus everything there is to know about getting your family off to a nutritious start, from birth to school age and beyond.

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