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15 Jan, 2024

Nutrition and Sleep: Understanding the Connection with Studio Nourish

The intricate relationship between nutrition, sleep and gut health is a vital yet often overlooked aspect of our overall wellbeing. Recent research has highlighted that the relationship between nutrition and sleep goes both ways, or to use a technical term, is bidirectional, meaning that not only does nutrition impact sleep, but sleep also affects appetite and absorption, with big consequences for how we eat and feel. We sit down with nutritionists Lindsay and Kirsty from Studio Nourish to deepdive into the connection between nutrition and sleep.


When we don’t get enough sleep, or our sleep quality is poor, it can disrupt the symphony of hormones involved in appetite regulation, energy balance and fat storage. If one hormone is off, much like an out of sync violinist in an orchestra, it upsets the remaining hormones involved in the other systems in our bodies. As an example, not getting enough sleep can lead to an increase in the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin, making us feel more hungry, which in turn lowers the production of the fullness hormone leptin, further reducing our feelings of fullness and potentially causing us to crave more food.

The foods we choose to eat, and their nutrients, or lack thereof can also impact sleep through their influence on our sleep-regulating hormones, neurotransmitters, and physiological processes. Eating nutrients that are required for the sleep pathway to operate effectively, such as tryptophan-rich foods like turkey, almonds and walnuts, support the production of serotonin and melatonin, key regulators of our sleep-wake cycles. The glycemic index (GI) of foods -a measure of how much the carbohydrates in a food affects your blood sugar - can also impact the release of insulin, which in turn influences sleep. Or to put it in simpler terms: consumption of sugary foods repeatedly throughout the day will cause repeated insulin spikes that may lead to disrupted sleep or early waking.

Sleeping is our body’s opportunity to carry out our vital restorative and detoxification processes too, on the night shift. Yet with insufficient sleep, these processes don’t happen properly and can therefore lead to imbalances in the gut microbiota, increased inflammation, and a compromised immune system, all of which have pretty unimpressive consequences for our overall wellness.

Here are three takeaways that can help you improve the quality and onset of your sleep

  1. Relaxation aids. How to relax is naturally very personal. However there are a number of supplements out there on the market that can help our bodies begin to wind down. Our favourite include: epsom salt baths using passionflower and chamomile essential oils; sleep patches by Ross J.Barr Supplements which contain a concoction of chinese herbs such as jujube and coix seeds that promote deep sleep. We also suggest a transdermal application of magnesium via a magnesium body spray which gets magnesium into the body fast, promoting relaxation. But start with small doses, as in some people, particularly the magnesium deficient, applying magnesium spray topically can cause a little sting!
  2. Diet. Prioritising a balanced diet and adopting healthy eating habits through vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins and reducing regular sugar intake can improve the quality of our sleep. Additionally, incorporating foods that are rich in magnesium and tryptophan will support the pathways in our body that are needed for sleep to happen.
  3. Finally, our circadian rhythms like consistency. Your morning routine affects your sleep for the upcoming night. So focusing on a consistent wake-up time will actually align with the circadian rhythm - our body’s internal clock - more than the time we go to bed, supporting a more restorative and higher-quality sleep. Additionally, looking at natural sunlight when you wake up e.g. having your first cuppa while standing outside for 10 mins, or by the window, will signal to your body that sleep time is officially over, regulating the production of melatonin and helping you to maintain healthy sleep-wake cycles.

Three Recipes from Detox Kitchen that will support sleep

  • Turkey Meatball Chilli: this recipe supports the natural sleep cycle by combining tryptophan-rich turkey with the carbohydrates - brown rice or quinoa. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that serves as a precursor to serotonin and melatonin, both of which are important for regulating sleep. For a vegan option, switch turkey with tofu.
  • Blueberry Banana Bread with Yogurt and Berries: Blueberries are known to be rich in antioxidants and fibre, which can contribute to better sleep by reducing inflammation and promoting digestive health. Additionally, bananas are a good source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that can help promote the production of serotonin and melatonin.
  • Radish, Courgette, Cucumber, Edamame and Cashew Nut Salad: Edamame, which are young soybeans, are a good source of tryptophan. One cup of soybeans contains 535mg of tryptophan, which is 191% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Cashews are also rich in tryptophan as well as magnesium, both supporting our sleep pathway.

If you’re looking for more information on how to reset your gut and optimise your sleep, then check out our 24 hr Winter: Sleep and Gut Reset which provides more detail on the science behind the relationship between digestion and sleep as well as a reset guide to get these two systems working more effectively.

Small changes in your diet can lead to significant improvements in your sleep quality and overall health. Here's to a well-nourished and restful sleep!

Our Ultimate Reset programme explores the connection between nutrition & sleep, as well as movement and the mind to provide a 20-day holistic health experience. Feel lighter, brighter, rejuvenated and more YOU in 4 weeks. Find out more here.