Victorian Institute of Sport

Nutrition Tip | Nutrition and Sleep

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Ever wondered whether nutrition can have an impact on your sleep? 

Sleep is a vital piece of the puzzle when we look at an athlete’s ability to perform at their best. Poor sleep can not only negatively impact performance but also mood, memory, concentration, immunity and inflammation. 

Recently, some research has been done on the effects of nutrition on sleep and the following recommendations have been suggested; 

• High GI foods such as; white bread, rice, potatoes may promote sleep if consumed more than an hour prior to bedtime 

• A diet high in protein may result in improved sleep quality 

• Diets high in fat can impair sleep 

• Calorie intake less than the body requires can result in disturbed sleep 

• Small doses of tryptophan (approximately 1g) may improve both sleep latency and sleep quality. Tryptophan can be found in milk, turkey, chicken, fish, eggs or pumpkin seeds.  

• Melatonin and foods which have a high melatonin concentration, such as tart cherry juice, may decrease sleep onset time

• There has been association with sleep duration and micronutrients. With sleep duration positively associated with iron, zinc and magnesium, and negatively associated with copper, potassium and vitamin B12

It is important to note, that research in this area is still minimal. Whilst some of these suggestions may help, it is important for athletes to practice good sleep hygiene practices – minimising screen use before bed, eating a nutritious and well balanced diet and ensuring adequate calorie intake.   

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