How to Sleep Better: Studies on Eating Healthy Fats
The link between what we eat and how we sleep is closely related, especially when it comes to consuming healthy fats.
In an article from the journal “Endocrinology – An Integrated Approach” (endocrinology deals with the glands and hormones), the author writes that all hormones are made from cholesterol. This includes estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, adrenal gland hormones, vitamin D, and the sleep hormone melatonin.
Eating healthy fats with our meals can play a vital role in helping us sleep better and achieve greater health, as these provide the basic building blocks for cholesterol production and hormones. The best fats to eat are nutrient rich foods like eggs, natural butter, salmon, sardines, shrimp, cod liver oil, avocados and coconut oil.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, a physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine who provides up-to-date natural health information says: “If you’re confused about cholesterol, it’s not your fault. Cholesterol has been a highly publicized scapegoat for causing heart disease for decades, and many have diligently cut all cholesterol-rich foods (which are often also nutrient-rich foods) from their diets as a result.”
For good heart health, Dr. Mercola says to: “Replace harmful vegetable oils and synthetic hydrogenated fats such as margarine with healthy fats, including olive oil, butter, avocado, pastured eggs and coconut oil (remember olive oil should be used cold only – use coconut oil for cooking and baking).”
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, M.D., says: “Hormones accomplish a myriad of functions in the body, from regulation of our metabolism, to energy production, mineral assimilation, brain, muscle, and bone formation, to behavior, emotion and reproduction… People whose bodies are unable to produce enough cholesterol do need to have plenty of foods rich in cholesterol in order to provide their organs with this essential-to-life substance.”
Milk is well-known for its positive effects on sleep, and dairy foods contain cholesterol, however some people are not able to digest dairy well and are better able to assimilate fermented dairy foods. Milk also has the benefit of containing calcium, which has been found in studies to soothe insomnia.
In one study from the European Journal of Clinical Neurology, researchers tested the use of milk that was fermented with yogurt cultures for its effect on sleep quality. They discovered that there was a significant improvement in the time needed to fall asleep, as well as a reduced number of night time awakenings for the participants who drank the fermented milk daily. No significant changes in sleep were observed for the placebo group.
Regarding the use of minerals for better sleep, one study called “The Nutritional Relationships of Magnesium”, notes that the type of insomnia associated with a calcium deficiency causes difficulty with falling asleep. The classical sign of magnesium deficiency is insomnia characterized by falling asleep easily, but awakening frequently throughout the night, with individuals finding themselves tired even after several hours of sleep.
A balanced calcium magnesium ratio is important to overall health, and these two minerals should be taken together for best results, in a two to one ratio with twice as much calcium as magnesium. The original research on this recommended ratio appeared in 1935 in the Journal of Physiological Reviews.
In summary, eating good healthy fats and also taking enough sleep-inducing minerals, can be a good combination for achieving better sleep.