Author: Laura Ballin   Posted: 19 August 2021



A Naturopaths guide to better sleep



Sleep. We all need it yet so many of us are going without. A massive 59.4% of Aussies experience sleep disturbance on a weekly basis and 14.8% have chronic insomnia. That’s huge.

It goes without saying that sleep is a ridiculously essential component of health and without it, things start to go astray. The short term consequences of sleep disruption include an increased stress response, emotional distress, pain, mood fluctuations, poor memory and cognition. I think most of us have been here, perhaps similar to how you may feel after too many Margarita’s?

The long-term consequences aren’t so short-lived. Expect an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease. Ouch.




Sleep Loving Nutrients



It's no secret that nutrition is fundamental for overall health, however it also plays an important role in influencing sleep duration and quality. Certain foods contain specific nutrients that can make it easier or harder to drift off into a peaceful slumber. Let’s take a look at a select few:







What doesn't magnesium do? It’s the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is required for hundreds of biochemical processes. Magnesium deficiency is linked with sleep disturbance and studies demonstrate that supplementation can assist people in not only falling asleep but staying asleep too. 


Load up on: Dark leafy green vegetables, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, edamame, brown rice, quinoa, figs, avocados, bananas and cacao.






A cooling and calming amino acid that assists sleep onset and sleep quality. It’s also handy for those experiencing sleep disruption from night sweats, (remembering of course to investigate the underlying causes of night sweats, such as hormones imbalance or blood sugar issues). Glycine is also required for collagen production, the stuff that helps with deliciously bouncy and firm skin!

Find it in: Gelatin powder, bone broth, poultry (particularly the skin), seafood, red meat, legumes, spinach, seaweed or a supplement prescribed by a health professional.







Another amino acid that loves sleep! The body uses tryptophan to produce serotonin, our feel good, mood-modulating neurotransmitter, and melatonin, the hormone that sends us off to dreamland. Having sufficient amounts of serotonin and melatonin are required for a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Find it in: Turkey, chicken, salmon, tuna, oats, egg yolks, edamame, firm tofu, peanuts, cheese and legumes.




B Vitamins 



Like amino acids, B vitamins are the building blocks to various mood-modulating neurotransmitters. They’re also neuroprotective and assist energy production – yes please. Deficiencies of certain B vitamins are associated with sleep disturbance, so it’s important to enjoy foods rich in B vitamins on a daily basis!

Load up on: Whole grains, poultry, seafood, meat, organ meats (organic is best), eggs, sunflower seeds, nuts, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, black beans) and dark leafy greens.




In Summary 



Nutrients are necessary for sufficient sleep. With a balanced diet that contains the above nutrients along a with a structured and healthy sleep routine, you’ll be on your way to a sweet, deep sleep!

Eat well, giggle regularly and go gently with yourself - your body will thank you for it.




About the Author



Laura Ballin is a Clinical Naturopath (BHSc) passionate about empowering individuals to reconnect with their body and return home to their true self. After battling with an eating disorder and various digestive concerns, Laura has a special interest in the gut, mental health, women’s hormonal health and skin conditions.





Instagram: @ode.toself




Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015). Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes.

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Kawai, N., Sakai, N., Okuro, M., Karakawa, S., Tsuneyoshi, Y., Kawasaki, N., Takeda, T., Bannai, M., & Nishino, S. (2015). The sleep-promoting and hypothermic effects of glycine are mediated by NMDA receptors in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(6), 1405–1416. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2014.326

Kennedy D. O. (2016). B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy--A Review. Nutrients, 8(2), 68.

Reynolds, A., Appleton, S., Gill, T., & Adams, R. (2019). Chronic Insomnia Disorder in Australia. Flux Visual Communication

Richard, D. M., Dawes, M. A., Mathias, C. W., Acheson, A., Hill-Kapturczak, N., & Dougherty, D. M. (2009). L-tryptophan: basic metabolic functions, behavioral research and therapeutic indications. International Journal of Tryptophan Research, 2, IJTR-S2129. DOI: 10.4137/ijtr.s2129

Yamadera, W., Inagawa, K., Chiba, S., Bannai, M., Takahashi, M., & Nakayama, K. (2007). Glycine ingestion improves subjective sleep quality in human volunteers, correlating with polysomnographic changes. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 5(2), 126-131.

Zhao, M., Tuo, H., Wang, S., & Zhao, L. (2020). The Effects of Dietary Nutrition on Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Mediators of inflammation, 2020, 3142874.

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