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Shona L. Halson
– Athletes should focus on utilising good sleep hygiene to maximise sleep (See previous Sports Science Exchange article on “Sleep in Elite Athletes”).
– While research is minimal and somewhat inconclusive, several practical recommendations may be suggested:
(1) High glycemic index (GI) foods such as white rice, pasta, bread and potatoes may promote sleep. However, they should be consumed >1HR prior to bedtime
(2) Diets high in carbohydrate may result in shorter sleep latencies (Latency is a time interval between the stimulation and response, or, from a more general point of view, a time delay between the cause and the effect of some physical change in the system being observed)
(3) Diets high in protein may result in improved sleep quality
(4) Diets high in fat may negatively influence total sleep time
(5) When total caloric intake is decreased, sleep quality may be disturbed
(6) Small doses of tryptophan (1 g) may improve both sleep latency and sleep quality. EX: ~300 g of turkey or ~200 g of pumpkin seeds
(7) The hormone melatonin and foods that have a high melatonin concentration may decrease sleep onset time
(8) Subjective sleep quality may be improved with the ingestion of the herb valerian.