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Nourish & Sleep Well Over the Holidays

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

As we move into the holiday season, our hearts become filled with excitement and our calendars become jam packed with to-do lists and social gatherings.  While there is such beauty in the hustle and bustle, it is really important for our health to balance it with rest and recuperation.   It’s all too easy to throw our sleep to the back burner while we shuffle from event to event and then wonder why we are feeling sluggish and tired.  Proper sleep doesn’t just have us bouncing out of bed in the morning, it impacts all the major pillars of our health including immune function, body composition, cognitive functioning and physical performance.  Simply put, if we want overall better health, improving sleep is crucial in obtaining that goal!

Here are just a few ways to protect our sleep during the festive season:


1.     Boost our microbiome – All those bugs living in and on our bodies have really important jobs, keeping their host (us!) healthy.  As far as sleep is concerned, studies show that negative changes in the microbiome have substantial detrimental effects on the quality of our sleep! Our gut bacteria really is at the root of our sleep wellness.  To keep these bugs happy we need to feed them the food that helps them thrive.  This food is called “prebiotics”.  Great sources of prebiotics include onions, leeks, garlic, artichoke, asparagus and even cocoa, when it isn’t drowning in sugar, of course!  Another helpful way to show love to the microbiome is to eat foods rich in these beneficial bugs called probiotics.  Sources of probiotic foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and even kombucha, provided that its’s sugar content is also kept at bay.


2.     Boost those sleepy time hormones and neurotransmitters– The first hormone that comes to mind when we think about sleep, is usually melatonin. This essential hormone plays many roles in our body including optimizing our circadian rhythm and promoting sleep.  The gut produces more than 400 times the amount of melatonin than the brain so keeping our gut healthy is imperative to the production of melatonin.  Serotonin, another well-known neurotransmitter also plays a key role in helping us sleep by decreasing insomnia. Serotonin boosts sleep quality of its own accord but is also used to make melatonin AND guess where we find more than 90% of the serotonin in our body? In the gut! Another shining example of why gut health has such a profound impact on sleep.


3.     Specific nutrients to help get that quality restorative sleep! Minerals like potassium and magnesium both help improve sleep quality. Potassium optimizes sleep cylces and reduces wake ups whereas magnesium activates neurotransmitters that are responsible for calming the body and mind. Foods like avocados, bananas, and leafy greens contain both potassium and magnesium.  Another great way to get magnesium is to end your day with a relaxing Epsom salt bath.  Vitamin C is another nutrient that pulls a big punch in the sleep arena.  Low levels of vitamin C have been shown to increase sleep disturbances and decrease sleep time.   Foods high in Vitamin C include bell peppers, citrus fruits, and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower.


However you choose to celebrate the holiday season, we wish you festive cheer, delicious foods and good quality rest and relaxation! 

Yours in health,

Steph Howells, Registered Holistic Nutritionist / 548-899-9642

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