Have you spent long nights lying awake, desperately waiting for sleep to take you? Sleep is an essential function of the human body, and not getting the proper amount of sleep can cause various issues ranging from mundane (sluggishness) to more severe (metabolic and cardiovascular problems).
An estimated 50% of Americans struggle with sleep disorders each year. It's incredibly common to experience some trouble sleeping. Researchers may not wholly understand sleep processes yet, but one thing is clear- we all need a proper amount of sleep to stay mentally and physically healthy.
So, how can zinc help? This incredible mineral helps to regulate dozens of essential processes in our bodies, including sleep. New research indicates that zinc can help promote and improve the quality of your sleep.
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Overview of Zinc
In order to understand more fully how zinc interacts with your sleep process, it’s important to understand the basics of this mineral. Let’s get right into it!
What is Zinc?
Zinc is a trace mineral and is the second most abundant trace mineral in the human body. This mineral is essential for vital chemical reactions carried out by over 100 enzymes in the human body.
Zinc is a significant component in creating DNA, building proteins, supporting a healthy immune system, healing damaged tissue, and the growth of cells. Recent research suggests that zinc also plays a crucial role in our sleep processes.
Foods Naturally Containing Zinc
Plenty of foods contain zinc naturally, and adding some of these foods to your diet is helpful. It’s basically food science. Maintaining a varied diet rich in vitamins and minerals, like zinc, will help keep you healthy and lower your risk of sleep-related problems.
Meat, poultry, and seafood are some of the best natural sources of zinc. These foods are naturally rich in zinc and can help you maintain healthy levels of this mineral in your body.
Some legumes and other grains contain zinc, but these foods also contain phytates, which bind to zinc and can interfere with its absorption.
How Does Sleep Work?
To better understand how zinc helps your sleep, it's helpful to know how sleep works. There are two main phases of sleep- non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). Both stages are equally important for your body to reap all the benefits of a good night's sleep.
Most people are more familiar with REM sleep because that's when we dream, but both phases are necessary for your body to heal and restore itself. The REM phase shows quicker brain waves, and your eyes will move around. During the NREM phase, your brain waves are slower, and your eyes are still.
Common Reasons For Poor Sleep
Poor quality of sleep can result from a number of factors. Something as simple as a change in diet or environment can affect your sleep. Other common reasons for poor sleep include:
- Too much caffeine or alcohol
- Eating or drinking late
- Anxiety or depression
- Artificial light and electronics
- Working or exercising late
Our bodies follow a natural circadian rhythm that tells us when it's time to go to sleep and wake up. Many things regulate this rhythm, but light is the most significant factor. That's why those who spend time in front of a screen before bedtime are more likely to experience sleeping disorders than others.
Related: Why Are Antioxidants So Important?
How Does Zinc Help With Sleep?
Zinc helps with sleep by improving the quality of your REM stage when the most restorative aspects of sleep are experienced. The reason for this lies in how zinc interacts with your brain's different processes, including sleep.
Women should take 8mg of zinc daily, while men need slightly more at 11mg. Studies show that those who took oral supplements containing zinc had a higher quality sleep with fewer wake-ups.
Maintaining proper levels of zinc in your body will help you fall asleep easier and protect your REM stage sleep by preventing interruptions to this cycle through late-night wake-ups.
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How Zinc Affects Dreams
Since zinc helps you fall asleep and protects your REM stage cycle, it's reasonable to attribute it to enhancing your dreams. People who have taken zinc supplements report having more vivid dreams and are better able to recall them.
On the flip side, people who have taken large amounts of zinc have reported experiencing disturbing nightmares. Zinc deepens and enhances your REM cycle, which is when you dream, so this mineral can contribute to more vivid dreams or nightmares when taken in excess.
What Other Vitamins Are Needed With Zinc
There are other minerals and vitamins you may want to consider adding to your nightly routine to get the best possible quality of sleep. Vitamin B6 can also help protect your REM stage and allow you to recall dreams more easily.
Magnesium is another vitamin that helps improve the restorative benefits gained from sleep. In addition, pairing melatonin with these other vitamins will help you fall asleep easier.
Things to Consider When Taking Zinc
Since some people have reported nightmares and disturbed sleep when taking high amounts of zinc, you should be cautious with your dosage. It's generally recommended that women consume 8mg and men consume 11mg of zinc daily. The maximum amount recommended to take per day is 40mg.
Many over-the-counter zinc supplements contain 50mg of this mineral, so it’s important to know the correct dosage for you. While overdosing on zinc may not cause long-lasting problems, it can cause some issues in the short term. Some common symptoms of overdosing on zinc include nausea, vomiting, and change of taste or smell.
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Getting the right amount of sleep helps you stay healthy and focused during the day. Adding zinc and other vitamins such as melatonin, magnesium, and B6 to your daily regime will help promote all stages of your sleep cycle so you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to get your energy up again with some BreinFuel!Looking to revitalize and re-energize yourself after an amazing night’s sleep. Check out BreinFuel for some all-natural energy-boosting drinks!