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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

8 Essential Vitamins And Minerals to Help You Sleep Better

8 Essential Vitamins And Minerals to Help You Sleep Better

If you are like most people, you probably can resonate with some bits of it:

You start the day off feeling pretty good after a cup of coffee. You get through the morning – maybe you catch a quick lunch workout, then around 2 or 4pm, you hit a slump. You feel like you could spend 4 hours in the staff nap room, but you know you have 24 more emails to get through before you can even begin to start winding down your workday. You promise yourself you’ll go to bed early, and if you wake up you won’t stare at your phone until the wee hours of the morning.

You have another cup of coffee on the drive home from work, start dinner, sit with the kids and family, load the dishwasher, and still have to put together the summary of a presentation for tomorrow morning. You feel more tired and overwhelmed, so you catch an episode of your favorite show and spend an hour wrapping up your presentation only to find its 10:30pm and you are exhausted.

You go to bed, but you just haven’t had the time to wind down so you lie there looking at the ceiling, listening to your partner snore like a chainsaw. When you do finally get to sleep, you wake up four hours later in the wee hours of the morning, and can’t get back to sleep…

You’re tired, so why can’t you go back to sleep?

Sometimes, our bodily sleep cycles get a little mixed up due to the poor nutritional choices we make in our day to day lives. We eat fast food on the run and miss out on important nutrients our bodies need to function properly and run smoothly. A body can only function properly for so long with an improper diet then at some point something has got to give.

This article will show you 8 vitamins, minerals and supplements to help you get a better sleep and increase your energy and productivity to help you look and feel your best!

A Word of Caution:

It is always important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist prior to using vitamins for sleep or adding supplements to your diet, as some of them you can overload on – such as iron, and the fat soluble Vitamins A, D E & K.

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A doctor, pharmacist or dietician can give you specific advice about how much of any supplement you may need as some supplements are not suitable for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have certain medical disorders.

1. Vitamin D

Most experts agree that Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin but rather, a hormone made in the body with the help of sunlight.

In a meta-analysis published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it was found that Vitamin D deficiency is in fact associated with a higher risk of sleep disorders and that with less than 20 ng/mL Vitamin D could increase the risk of sleep disorders.[1]

You can get Vitamin D from supplementation, and sunlight! Some foods high in Vitamin D are eggs, salmon, tuna fish, and mushrooms.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see what your current Vitamin D level is and how much you should be supplementing. Because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it can get stored in your body and become toxic if the level is too high.

Want to know how much sunlight is safe and when to get it to produce your own Vitamin d? This app maybe able to help.

2. Vitamin E

A 2011 study looking at the neuroprotective effect of Vitamin E showed that Vitamin E can prevent sleep deprivation-induced memory impairment, as well as normalizing hippocampus antioxidant mechanisms during sleep deprivation.[2]

In addition to this, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant – protecting the body tissue from free radical damage, and playing a role in healthy aging.

It also helps to keep the immune system strong, is important in the formation of red blood cells and helps the body use Vitamin K.

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Sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ oil are foods that contain Vitamin E in relatively decent amounts. You can also buy it in capsule form at most pharmacies.

Vitamin E is another of the fat-soluble vitamins, so check in with your doctor or pharmacist to assess your needs.

3. B Vitamins

There are 8 B Vitamins that are vital to your health which together are called the B -complex Vitamins. Some emerging research shows that certain B-Vitamins – B3, B5, B6, B9 & B12 to be exact – help regulate the body’s supply of Tryptophan, which in turn helps the body produce melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced in your body to make you sleepy. (More on Tryptophan and Melatonin later).

The B-Vitamins are typically included in most multivitamins, or you can purchase B-Complex on its own in supplement form. A healthy, well rounded diet with plenty of whole grains, meats, fruit and veggies often provides a good base amount for the body.

4. Calcium & Magnesium

These two minerals are often recommended together just before bed as they both play a role in muscle contraction and relaxation.

It is believed that a lack of Calcium and Magnesium can cause numerous sleep interruptions throughout the night, and Calcium works with Tryptophan (another hormone involved in sleepiness) to produce Melatonin which helps induce sleep. Chronic insomnia is also one of the initial symptoms of Magnesium deficiency.

A diet rich in greens, nuts and seeds will ensure you get Magnesium and Calcium as well as you can buy a supplement containing both at any pharmacy.

5. Theanine

Theanine is an amazing amino acid that is found in tea leaves – particularly green tea – and some types of mushrooms.

Theanine boosts some of the chemicals in the brain (such as dopamine, GABA, and serotonin) which help to regulate sleep. It also lowers chemicals in the brain that have an excitatory effect.

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Experts believe it helps induce sleepiness and speed up the time it takes to fall asleep as well as improving sleep quality.[3]

As mentioned, you can get Theanine from green tea. However, you can also find it in supplement form at many pharmacies.

6. Iron

The number one symptom of low Iron levels is fatigue and sleep disturbance. Low iron levels are thought to be a major risk factor in Restless Leg Syndrome, which can cause sleeplessness or insomnia.

Low iron can also contribute to feelings of anxiety which can make sleep tough as well.

Have your doctor check your iron levels. If you are low, they will recommend a supplement. Did you know that your body absorbs 2 to 3 times more iron from animal sources than from plant sources?

Hack: Vitamin C helps your body absorb Iron, so try taking any recommended supplements with apple or orange juice!

The following foods are high in iron:

Lean beef, oysters, chicken, turkey, beans and lentils, tofu, baked potatoes, cashews, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, fortified breakfast cereals, whole-grain and enriched breads.

7. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, which makes you feel sleepy.

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If you are having trouble getting to sleep, you can also find it in supplement form and typically taking it for a short period (two weeks or so) can help reset your circadian rhythm and let you fall asleep faster. Experts recommend trying it for a short period then stopping supplementation and seeing how your body has responded.

You can help melatonin do its job by “setting the mood”. Turn the lights low, shut off screens, and get cozy.

And if you still have trouble getting to sleep, you can find its supplement at almost any pharmacy.

8. Tryptophan

You know how after Thanksgiving dinner, everyone heads for the recliner or couch and falls asleep? Studies have shown over and over again that tryptophan can induce sleepiness and help you fall asleep faster.

You can buy tryptophan supplements at most pharmacies. You can also get it from many foods such as: nuts, seeds, poultry (not just turkey), milk, spinach, eggs and salmon.

Conclusion

Healthy sleep is imperative for overall bodily health, yet it is not uncommon to experience sleep issues at different times in your life – for many different reasons.

Whether it is stress, or hormone related or otherwise, there are many things that can assist you to improve your sleep.

More Articles About Sleep

Featured photo credit: Phuong Tran via unsplash.com

Reference

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Laura Barr

Laura is a registered clinical massage therapist & certified fitness consultant specializing in holistic nutrition, injury & weight management.

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Published on June 8, 2021

What is Mental Energy And How To Maintain A High Level of It

What is Mental Energy And How To Maintain A High Level of It

We all understand “energy” in the physical sense, and we mostly experience the feeling of having a lot or a lack of physical energy. But physical energy is very different from mental energy. So, what is mental energy?

Mental energy is a mood and a measure of the willingness to undertake cognitive tasks. When you are experiencing an abundance of mental energy, you will feel motivated, efficient, and focused when dealing with tasks. You may feel like you can take on more and have the capacity to throw yourself into a situation without feeling stress or anxiety.

However, unfortunately in the busyness of modern society, you may relate more to the feeling of having a lack of mental energy. Take yourself back to a situation where you are juggling lots of tasks, work is hard, and home life is emotionally exhausting. This is the feeling of a lack of mental energy. You may have felt like being on the verge of burnout, found yourself procrastinating, and had the feeling of just not having the capacity to take on any more emotional or cognitive tasks.

You must deal with a lack of mental energy before it develops into mental exhaustion. Let us take a look at the symptoms of mental exhaustion and the toll that it can take on you as a person and your life.

Signs of Mental Exhaustion

Here are the mental, physical, and behavioral signs of exhaustion.

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Mental Signs

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anger

Physical Signs

  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Change in appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Increased illness

Behavioral Signs

  • Poor performance at work
  • Social withdrawal
  • Inability to keep to commitments
  • Increased time off sick at work

The signs of mental exhaustion are less than desirable, and you should reiterate the importance of maintaining your mental energy and do not let it be an afterthought.[1]

How to Maintain a High Level of Mental Energy

The maintenance of mental energy is all in the approach. We can not always control our situation or the number of tasks that we have on at a particular moment in time. However, we can control how we manage and maintain our mental health and mental energy at these times. Just as our physical energy can be maintained through various methods, so can our mental energy.

Now, let us take a look at some of the useful methods that can help us to maintain a high level of mental energy starting from today.

1. Get Adequate Sleep

Sleep may sound like the most obvious method to help maintain a high level of mental energy, however, it is very important.

There are two stages of sleep, REM (rapid eye movement) which is the stage of sleep when you dream, and Non-REM. Non-REM can be divided into three stages, the final stage being deep sleep. The deep sleep stage is where scientists believe that your body renews and repairs itself and also the stage that is most important in terms of energy maintenance.

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There are many ways in which you can create good sleep hygiene. These include having time away from devices before sleep, stopping caffeine intake a few hours before you plan to go to sleep, and going to sleep at the same time each evening.

2. Structure Your Day

Structuring your day can apply to either your home or your work life. The key is to prioritize the important tasks so that if you run out of time, you are safe in the knowledge that these have been completed. If you don’t do this, then you are at risk of overworking yourself, staying at work late, or doing household tasks into the evening.

At home, this may be washing first or tidying the house before you sit down to have a relax. At work, you can write down a list of your tasks for the day and then, list them from the highest priority to the lowest. You can tick off each task as you go along. Any uncompleted tasks can then be transferred to the next day. Furthermore, if you are running out of time, you’ll know in advance and can delegate the priority work to ensure that this is completed on time.

3. Eat Well

Eating well is important for both physical and mental health. Eating a well-balanced diet and certain foods can aid memory, concentration, and focus and thus, helping you maintain mental energy.

Let us take a look at some foods that can do this:

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  • Wholegrains – can improve concentration and focus as it provides a steady supply of energy throughout the day.
  • Blueberries – can boost short-term memory as they contain protective compounds called anthocyanins.
  • Blackcurrants – can reduce anxiety and stress as they contain Vitamin C which is widely thought to increase mental agility.
  • Pumpkin seeds – can enhance memory and boost mood as they are rich in magnesium, B vitamins, and tryptophan, which are believed to be important in serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that has a positive impact on mood.

4. Get Some Fresh Air

Going outdoors can have a restorative effect on mental health. You do not have to undertake a ten-mile walk to reap the benefits. Simply being out in the garden, going for a stroll in the countryside, or doing a brisk walk to the shop can have a positive effect on mental energy. Research has shown that spending time outdoors can relieve anxiety and depression. Furthermore, it promotes relaxation and can improve confidence and self-esteem.[2]

5. Take a Break

Taking a break every so often whether at work or when doing any task can maintain a high level of mental energy and focus when needed. A break can involve something as simple as walking away from your computer and changing your environment for a few minutes by going to make a cup of tea to strolling around the block on your lunch rather than staying in the office.

This change of environment takes your mind off the task at hand, rejuvenates, and reenergizes you. Focus can then be maintained and the task at hand can be done to the best of your abilities without mental fatigue.

6. Exercise Your Brain

Challenging your brain does for your mind what exercise does for your body. Physical exercise can stimulate your physical energy just as exercising your brain can stimulate your mental energy.

There are many ways to exercise your brain including:

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  • Brain training exercises can stimulate the mind and also boost intelligence.
  • Learn something new to create new challenges for your brain.
  • Socializing can stimulate multiple areas of the brain. The array of activities involved in socializing engages different areas of the brain with each activity.

7. Meditate

Studies of meditation have shown to have many benefits to the brain. Such benefits include an improvement in brain function and energy levels.

One such study found that practicing meditation for just 25 minutes a day can provide this boost. This is because meditation has been found to release endorphins and increase blood flow to the brain. When meditating, you focus your attention on your breathing and the aim is to eliminate the busyness of the brain and your thoughts. This provides a much-needed rest for your brain thus increasing your mental energy levels.[3]

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, a lack of mental energy is experienced by many and potentially, it is more commonly felt than the feeling of having a high level of energy. Once you spot the signs of a lack of mental energy, it is time to take action before those feelings worsen and develop into mental exhaustion.

However, the good news is that there are basic steps that you can take to maintain a high level of mental energy, and it is just as important as maintaining a high level of physical energy. These steps can be incorporated into your daily life with minimal effort. Eat well, sleep well, get some fresh air, take a break, challenge your brain, structure your day and meditate—it is as simple as that.

More Tips on Boosting Mental Energy

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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Reference

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