Nearly half (4.8 out of 10) of U.S. workers feel tired during the day, and 6.9 out of 10 say they feel tired when the workday ends.
If you frequently feel tired at or after work, the issue could be that you’re not sleeping well at night.
Did you know that changing your diet and eating more nutrient-dense foods (specifically vegetables) could improve your sleep quality? Find out how veggies can help you sleep better below.
Nutrient Deficiencies and Poor Sleep
Particular vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been linked to poor sleep quality.
How do nutrient deficiencies affect sleep?
A lack of essential nutrients in your diet can interfere with your body’s ability to produce certain hormones, such as those that contribute to better sleep. They may contribute to mental health challenges that affect sleep quality.
The following are some of the most crucial vitamin and mineral deficiencies to be aware of if you struggle with insomnia or poor sleep:
- Vitamin B3: Some studies show a small but significant correlation between insomnia and low vitamin B3 (niacin) levels.
- Vitamin B6: A deficiency in vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) has been linked to increased psychological distress, which in turn can interfere with sleep quality.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is associated with an increased risk of depression, a mental health condition contributing to many people's insomnia and daytime fatigue.
- Vitamin C: Low vitamin C can contribute to shorter sleep cycles, as well as deficiencies in other nutrients (including vitamin D) that are also linked to poor sleep.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D imbalances (too much or too little) can interfere with sleep; too little in the blood increases the risk of poor sleep quality, and too much interferes with melatonin production (melatonin is a hormone that controls sleep).
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects the cells and reduces the symptoms of various sleep-related health problems. Many sleep deprivation side effects are associated with low vitamin E, including poor focus and memory loss.
- Magnesium: Those with low magnesium levels often experience restlessness at night and wake up frequently.
- Calcium: Low calcium is associated with daytime fatigue, brain fog, and
- Iron: Iron deficiency can contribute to anemia, which causes fatigue and breathlessness. It also interferes with your body’s ability to make sleep hormones.
- Zinc: Zinc deficiency is linked to shorter sleep cycles and frequent sleep disturbances.
The good news is that these and other essential micronutrients can be found in many different vegetables. It’s easier than you might think to correct these deficiencies and improve your sleep quality (and your overall health).
Best Veggies for Quality Sleep
Working with your physician can help you determine the specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies (if any) you’re experiencing. Once you know, you can start making adjustments to your diet to improve your sleep.
If you need to increase your levels of the nutrients discussed above, start with these vegetables:
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that provides you with vitamins B3, B6, and B12, as well as vitamins C, D, and E. It contains plenty of essential sleep-promoting minerals, too, including zinc, iron, and calcium.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable and an excellent plant-based source of iron (a mineral that people typically associate with red meat and other animal products). It also provides a healthy dose of vitamin C in every serving.
When most people think of the nutrients in carrots, they think of vitamin A. These bright orange vegetables have plenty of other nutrients to offer, though, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, and calcium.
Asparagus is a low-calorie vegetable and a good source of vitamins C and E. It also provides you with small (but still significant) amounts of zinc and iron.
When you need to take a break from using spinach as the base of your salad, switch things up and toss in some kale instead. Kale provides vitamins B6 and C, as well as the minerals iron and calcium.
Both beetroots and beet greens contain essential micronutrients that improve sleep and general health. For example, beetroots (the bright red portion) contain iron and vitamin C, and beet greens provide vitamin B6 and magnesium.
Bell peppers are loaded with vitamin C. In fact, one serving contains more than 100 percent of the daily recommended amount. They also provide you with vitamins B6 and E (as well as other beneficial antioxidants).
Artichokes are a tasty side dish and contain several vital vitamins and minerals. As for those related to quality sleep, you can get vitamins B6 and C, as well as iron and magnesium, from a serving of artichokes.
One serving of Brussels sprouts contains over half the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. They’re also a good source of sleep-promoting, beneficial minerals like magnesium.
Dandelion greens are an excellent option for those who want to shake up their salads or smoothies.
They contain vitamins C and E, as well as small amounts of essential B vitamins. They’re also a good source of magnesium, iron, and calcium.
Increasing your sweet potato intake is an easy and tasty way to get more vitamin C in your diet. Sweet potatoes also provide you with several healthy minerals like magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Garlic doesn’t just add flavor to your favorite dishes. It also helps you increase your micronutrient intake.
Garlic contains iron, magnesium, and calcium, as well as vitamin C and small amounts of vitamin B6 and zinc.
Bonus Tips for Better Rest
Incorporating more of these vegetables into your diet will not only help you diversify your diet and revitalize bland meals, but it also allows you to naturally increase your intake of essential nutrients, particularly those associated with better sleep.
While you’re increasing your vegetable intake and addressing nutrient deficiencies, you can take additional steps to improve your sleep naturally. Here are some of the best strategies to consider:
Minimize Screen Time
Many people like to wind down at night by watching a couple of episodes of their favorite TV show or scrolling on social media.
The problem with these practices, particularly for those struggling with insomnia, is that the blue light from your devices can interfere with melatonin production. This interference, in turn, can cause you to feel more alert at night.
If you can’t give up your nighttime screen exposure, try adjusting the backlight on your devices so it has a red tint instead. You can also wear blue light-blocking glasses for the same effect.
Prioritize Morning Sunlight
While exposure to light at night can hurt your sleep, exposure to light in the morning can help you sleep more soundly and feel more alert throughout the day.
Research shows that morning sunlight exposure (or even exposure to very bright artificial light) causes nighttime melatonin production to occur sooner. As a result, you’ll have an easier time feeling tired and falling asleep when bedtime arrives.
Keep Your Bedroom Cool
A hot bedroom can cause discomfort and make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. Try turning down the thermostat at night (60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for most people), use a fan, or open the window to stay cool.
Exercising (as long as you don’t do so too close to bedtime) can also help you fall asleep more easily.
Experts hypothesize that some of the sleep benefits of regular exercise include increased slow-wave sleep (deep sleep that allows the brain and body to rejuvenate) and mood stabilization, which helps you to decompress and fall asleep faster.
Mindfulness-promoting activities like meditation and yoga can help you calm your brain, slow racing thoughts, and feel more relaxed before bedtime. Many people find that swapping their nighttime TV-watching for these activities is an excellent way to wind down for the evening and sleep more soundly.
Stick to a Routine
A solid morning and evening routine can help you sleep better at night. Sticking to a routine before bedtime helps send a signal to your body that it’s time to wind down, relax, and go to sleep.
A morning routine can also benefit your efforts to get better sleep.
Say your morning routine includes sun or bright light exposure, exercise, and a healthy breakfast. With these activities, you’re setting yourself up for a more energized day and quality sleep at night.
Enhance Your Sleep with Nature’s Sustenance
If you’re struggling with poor sleep, the solution could be as simple as adding more vegetables to your diet. What if you don’t have time to cook extra vegetables, though?
For a simple way to get all the essential vitamins and minerals mentioned in this guide, check out Substance’s most popular supplement -- Nature’s Sustenance. You get the essential nutrients from over 20 fruits, vegetables, and greens in just four capsules!
Experience the sleep-promoting benefits of veggies with Nature’s Sustenance. Get your first bottle today.