Sleep Challenges Might be a Mirror of Nutrient Deficiency
- Do you often feel drained and tired?
- Do you have trouble sleeping or thinking clearly?
- Have you ever considered that you may be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals?
What is Nutrient Deficiency?
Nutrient deficiencies occur when your body doesn’t get enough nutrients to keep you happy and healthy. If deficient, your body’s processes and functions may be restricted. Symptoms of nutrient deficiency vary widely from nutrient to nutrient and from person to person. Not only may you feel physically weak, but your mental well-being may also decline.
For your body to function optimally and feel good, you need a variety of nutrients. You may be missing just one nutrient or you may be missing several nutrients. But any signs of deficiency should disappear completely as soon as your body absorbs the missing nutrients.
What Causes Nutritional Deficiencies?
There are many reasons why you may have nutritional deficiency however, the basic mechanisms behind are:
- Inadequate intake of nutrients
- Inadequate or mal-absorption of nutrients
- Increased/ unmet requirement of a nutrient in body
Lack of essential vitamins and minerals is caused by the following reasons mainly:
- When our diet lacks important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B, vitamin C, zinc and iron, it can lead to a deficiency.
- Eating high amounts of junk and processed foods also causes lack of essential vitamins in the body.
- Strictly vegan diets can also restrict the nutrients intake such as protein deficiency.
- Overcooking can destroy the vitamins in food.
- Alcohol consumption interferes with the absorption of folate and vitamin C in the body.
- Smoking also hinders vitamin C absorption in the body.
- Drugs such as anti-seizure drugs, antacids and drugs for diabetes may hinder the absorption of Vitamin B12.
Useful Resource: Here is a useful link to see the Dietary Recommendations for Americans Issued by dietaryguidelines.gov to review how an ideal diet should be according to every age group.
How is Sleep Affected by Nutrition?
Sleep is deeply related with nutrient profile in our blood. We are what we eat, hence the food we eat gives our body and brain the right information at the right time to help it perform its functions properly.
- Lack of sleep nutrition: Certain foods support better sleep while other may interrupt the sleep cycles. There are many nutrients that play a crucial role in sleep cycle. Lack of those nutrients may interrupt the sleep cycle.
- Low fiber, high saturated fat diet: A diet low in fiber and high in saturated fat may decrease the restorative sleep cycle of the body. It also takes time to digest completely which gives you a feeling of fullness if you eat high-protein or saturated fat foods near bedtime which makes it difficult to sleep.
- High sugar foods: foods high in sugar can cause you to awaken while sleeping interrupting with the smooth sound sleep time.
- Certain beverages also lead to poor sleep if consumed closed to bedtime such as drinks with caffeine certain desserts also have caffeine in them such as ice-creams or chocolates.
- Spicy food: Spices lead to heartburn and acidity and make it difficult to lie down to sleep peacefully. Spices also worsen the obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and rise the body temperature that causes the body to work harder and make you feel extra warm in bed which makes it difficult to sleep.
- Alcohol consumption can also worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea and once the effects of alcohol wear off, it makes it difficult to back to sleep restfully.
Why Getting Enough Sleep is Important?
Which Nutrients Affect Our Sleep?
Studies have found certain nutrients to play vital role in sleep. Here are some of the nutrients that can help you get better sleep at night and the foods you can find them in:
Magnesium is a highly prized nutrient when it comes to your body’s processes. It has a role in metabolism as well as cell and bone growth. If you have a digestive disorder like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, you should be concerned about your body’s ability to retain the magnesium you consume. People with digestive disorders may have problems with low magnesium levels, which can lead to sleep problems because magnesium helps your mind slow down and promotes feelings of sleepiness. Finding foods that are good sources of magnesium is not difficult. Foods like almonds, pumpkin seeds, spinach, black beans, peanut butter, and edamame beans are all great sources. 
- Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is also a nutrient that helps your body make the sleep hormones melatonin and serotonin, which affect your sleep and wake cycles. Again, people with digestive disorders may have difficulty retaining the vitamin B6 their bodies need for healthy sleep, as can pregnant women and people who drink a lot of alcohol. You can find vitamin B6 in foods like starches, fortified cereals, meats, and non-citrus fruits. Bananas, sunflower seeds and oatmeal are also great sources.
Zinc is important for the optimal functioning of your body. It helps you absorb nutrients from the foods you eat and also helps your body repair and grow. Zinc and its close friend magnesium help your body produce melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle.
Zinc is something you need to eat every day because your body doesn’t store more. You can find zinc in seafood (oysters and shrimp are great sources), beef, beans, nuts, seeds, and lentils. Whole grains like quinoa, as well as foods like milk, eggs, and potatoes are also good sources of zinc. You can even find it in dark chocolate and fortified breakfast cereals. 
How nutritional deficiency could come up?
Your body needs enough nutrients every day through a balanced diet. Each nutrient has a specific function. When your nutrient supply is depleted, you may notice sleep problems or fatigue. Changes such as pregnancy, lactation, aging or illness are often associated with an increased need for certain nutrients from foods or supplements. If the increased need is not met, nutrient deficiencies can occur.
Possible Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency
Once you are deficient in nutrients, your body sends out signals that you should not ignore. Sleep problems and fatigue are noticeable along with other general symptoms such as:
- Pale skin
- Muscle and limb pain
- Lack of concentration
- Bleeding gums
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How Functional Nutrition Can Help Sleep Challenges?
Functional Nutrition has a food and nutrition based approach to managing sleep challenges.
The first step in treating sleep deprivation is to find the root cause. Testing is an important and easy step to add to your treatment plan. Find exactly where you are lacking or in excess, then balance those imbalances. 
- Balanced Nutrition
What you choose to eat is one of the most important factors in determining the quality of your sleep. Focus on nutrient-rich whole foods that the patient lacks based on micronutrient testing. Studies also show that people who follow a low-inflammatory diet have fewer sleep problems.
- Micronutrient Supplements
High-quality single or multivitamin/mineral formulas can help address underlying deficiencies. Vitamin injections and intravenous infusions also work rapidly to provide higher doses in severely deficient patients. Work with Chen Ben Asher to get the right supplement for your needs.
- Improved Sleep Hygiene
A good sleep hygiene program is the next step to helping sleep-deprived clients. And it’s a tough topic since most people are addicted to their phones or TVs, which can actually lower melatonin and increase cortisol at night.
Our devices can also cause the happy chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, to fluctuate depending on what you read or watch. Have you ever received a sweet message or comment at 9pm? Guess what? Serotonin and dopamine rush. How about a late night horror movie? The fight or flight will be all over the place, affecting cortisol levels. 
How I May Help You Get Improved Sleep?
Are you tired of masking your symptoms with harsh medications and want to get to the root cause of lack of sleep?
You could take charge of your health today with a FREE 20-minute phone consultation. We will identify the key areas that need support and give necessary support to show what needs to be done uniquely for your case. Please CONTACT me to schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation if you or your loved ones are seeking relief from insomnia.
I will give you my best recommendations based on what’s happening inside your body on a cellular level, in a bid to achieve optimum results.
Not everyone falls asleep easily. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of Americans sleep less than seven hours a night. Sleep deprivation is a big problem because it’s been linked to chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. There are many reasons why you are not getting enough sleep at night. One of them could just be a nutrient deficiency.
Humans are said to relax after sunset (producing melatonin) and wake up at the first light of the sun (producing cortisol). Do your best to maintain a regular bedtime routine that allows you to dim all the blue lights at least an hour (preferably more) before bed.
Another tip is to move your body during the day to burn extra calories (calories consumed equals energy). If moving is hard for you, start small, reach your goal of 5,000 steps a day, then work your way up. Exercise can also balance hormones and neurotransmitters.