Sleep is imperative to recovery, detoxification, repair, and energy levels, reducing stress and supporting the nervous system and reducing inflammation within the body. There are many factors that affect sleep patterns and I have covered a few here for today:

Lifestyle factors affecting sleep:

  • High levels of stress and emotional disturbances
  • Exposure to bright lights near bed time
  • High intake of alcohol, coffee and other stimulants
  • Shift workers
  • Drug usage and withdrawal
  • Not going to bed at the same time each night, having a poor routine
  • Staying up late to cram in extra study, when sleep is priority for the following day productiveness

Dietary Factors that may affect sleep

  • Eating too close to bed time
  • Eating large meals prior to retiring
  • Food additives such as aspartame are known to disturb sleep patterns and interfere with neurotransmitter balance
  • Lack of overall nutritional intake, and under eating may affect the neurotransmitters; induce nocturnal hypoglycemia and cause awakening during the night. Lack of calories may reduce melatonin secretion. Carbohydrates promote sleep by increasing serotonin.
  • Tryptophan found in seafood, eggs, poultry meat and seeds, is the precursor to serotonin and melatonin promoting sleep (Hechtman, 2014).
  • Melatonin found in walnuts, oats, olives and tomatoes. Regulates circadian rhythm.
  • B6 avocado, bananas, carrot, chicken, eggs, sunflower seeds, B3 beef, chicken, eggs, fish, salmon, magnesium leafy greens nuts and seeds, Calcium fish, leafy green vegetables, almonds, and Iron spinach, parsley, beef, almonds, pumpkin seeds. These nutrients are cofactors in the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin.
  • EFAs Neuronal membrane function, eicosanoid synthesis, regulates prostaglandins that promote and suppress sleep (Hechtman, 2014 p. 1209). May influence melatonin synthesis (Peuhkuri
, Sihvola & Korpela, 2012).
  • Magnesium Relax muscles and nervous system, cofactor for NT synthesis. Reduce restless legs syndrome.
  • Zinc cofactor in biochemical reactions. Deficiency may impair neurological function (Hechtman, 2014 p. 1207)
  • B vitamins – may support stress and regulate sleep mechanisms. Metabolism of serotonin. B12- converts serotonin to melatonin. B3 & B6- cofactor for serotonin and GABA production
  • Excessive intakes of alcohol, coffee and other stimulants.
  • Inadequate protein intake, reducing the amino acids needed to promote serotonin synthesis. Protein also provides L-tryptophan and may prevent nocturnal hypoglycemia.

Emily Bingham
EMpower Fitness and Nutrition


Hechtman, L. (2014). Clinical naturopathic medicine. Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier Australia.

Peuhkuri, K., Sihvola, N., & Korpela, R. (2012). Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin. Food & Nutrition Research, 56(0).