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Achieve better sleep quality by optimizing six biomarkers that are fundamental to overall health

Achieve better sleep quality by optimizing six biomarkers that are fundamental to overall health

Multiple factors determine a good night’s sleep. So, even if you have a conducive environment for sleep, some other factors may interfere with your sleep.

 

According to the National Institutes of Health,1 certain biomarkers, also known as biological markers or medical signs, can directly impact sleep. 

 

These biomarkers can be measured with simple laboratory tests, as Dr. Brett Osborn, a Florida neurologist and longevity expert, noted in an interview with Fox News Digital. He further explained that these biomarkers’ values are an indicator of an individual’s health and wellness.

 

Experts highlighted the six biomarkers with the most significant impact on sleep and tips on how to enhance them.2

 

According to Osborn, “What you can measure, you can optimize.” He further emphasized that enhancing these markers may not only boost your sleep quality but also benefit your overall health.

 

Biomarkers that significantly impact sleep

 

The six biomarkers that significantly affect sleep include:

 

Vitamin D

 

According to Michelle Darian, a registered dietitian and science and product marketing manager at InsideTracker, achieving optimal levels of vitamin D can enhance sleep quality by promoting faster sleep onset and increasing total sleep duration. InsideTracker is a health platform offering personalized nutrition and lifestyle recommendations.

 

She continued, “Low levels of vitamin D are associated with decreased sleep time, decreased sleep efficiency and increased daytime sleepiness.” She highlighted research indicating that vitamin D indirectly influences melatonin production—a hormone crucial in regulating the sleep-wake cycle—and brain receptors responsible for sleep regulation.

 

Darian suggests optimizing vitamin D levels by spending 20 minutes in sunlight daily and consuming foods rich in vitamin D or fortified with it, such as fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, or fortified dairy products. She explained that this approach could help meet the body’s daily needs and promote quicker sleep onset, increasing overall sleep duration.” 

 

Supplementation may be necessary to elevate levels of vitamin D deficiency in individuals with vitamin D deficiency. According to Darian, “Studies have shown that improving vitamin D levels by taking a supplement improves sleep.”

 

Additionally, Osborn recommends adding vitamin K2 for those taking a vitamin D3 supplement to protect the inner lining of blood vessels.

 

Magnesium

 

According to Osborn, magnesium plays a crucial role in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming and relaxing the body, in contrast to the sympathetic system, which initiates fight-or-flight responses. 

 

Inadequate magnesium levels may result in disrupted sleep and frequent awakenings. Osborn suggests incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your diet, such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains to optimize magnesium levels. He also recommends a daily magnesium chelate supplement to maintain adequate levels.

 

Cortisol

 

Darian explains that cortisol levels, the stress hormone, naturally vary throughout the day, reaching their peak in the morning to aid in waking up and decreasing at night as the body prepares for sleep.

 

“High levels of stress before bed can cause cortisol levels to stay high, making falling and staying asleep harder and delaying the production of melatonin,” she informed Fox News Digital.

 

Maintaining a healthy cortisol rhythm is essential for regulating your sleep cycle. According to Darian, elevated nighttime cortisol levels can result in fragmented sleep (frequent awakenings), reduced deep sleep, shortened sleep duration, and insomnia. 

 

She recommends maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine before bedtime, and limiting screen time before sleep to regulate cortisol levels. 

 

“Aim to keep your bedroom environment dark, as light can keep cortisol levels elevated and melatonin levels low, which you want to avoid before bed,” advised Darian. 

 

Morning exercise can also increase cortisol levels and alertness early in the day, promoting better sleep later. Additionally, Darian suggests incorporating diaphragmatic breathing to reduce stress and cortisol levels.

Testosterone

 

Darian explains that testosterone, an anabolic hormone, plays a crucial role in muscle and bone development, accelerating tissue recovery, and stimulating red blood cell production to support the body’s healing processes. 

 

“Low testosterone levels may hinder the body’s muscle-building and repairing capabilities that naturally occur during sleep,” said Darian.

 

According to research, adequate sleep duration of seven to nine hours per night is associated with elevated testosterone levels.

 

To optimize testosterone levels, experts advise engaging in regular exercise and consuming a diet rich in healthy fats. “It’s important to note that too much or too little exercise can lead to low testosterone levels,” Darian advised.

 

She further recommended incorporating foods high in zinc, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, and healthy fats, such as almonds, hazelnuts, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, lean poultry, or beef, to enhance testosterone levels. 

 

In cases of low testosterone levels, Darian advised assessing magnesium and vitamin D levels, as deficiencies in both have been linked to reduced testosterone levels.

 

Blood glucose and HbA1C

 

Osborn pointed out that elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels can cause increased wakefulness at night and trouble falling asleep, while low levels may cause awakenings due to hypoglycemia symptoms. 

 

Meanwhile, Darian explained that Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is a blood test that measures average blood sugar levels over the last three to four months. 

 

Both acute and chronic sleep deprivation have been linked to impaired glucose tolerance and insulin response. Darian further suggests having large meals at least two hours before bedtime to optimize blood sugar levels.

 

“Nighttime meals — especially those high in fat or fiber — have been linked to poorer sleep quality,” she added.

 

For improved glycemic control, Osborn recommended considering metformin, a medication commonly used to treat type II diabetes.

 

hsCRP

 

Darian explained that the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) is intricately linked to the immune system’s inflammatory response. “Research shows that sleep deprivation can lead to long-term inflammation, impairing the body’s immune system and its ability to fight infections,” she told Fox News Digital.

 

During sleep, as bodily functions decelerate, the body reallocates and directs resources to various functions. She warned that less sleep can reduce the time and energy needed to address lingering inflammation and elevate hsCRP levels.

 

Osborn emphasized that eating a low-glycemic, anti-inflammatory diet rich in omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids, regular physical activity and managing stress levels are essential to reduce hsCRP levels.

 

According to Darian, individuals with elevated hsCRP should ensure adequate fiber intake by incorporating foods such as avocados, tofu, Brussels sprouts, black beans, or yams.

 

She further recommended consuming antioxidant-rich foods like berries, nuts, and seeds to support healthy hsCRP levels. Both experts highlighted that these biomarkers can be easily measured with simple blood laboratory testing.

 

“A good night’s sleep is integral to your health — it’s like rebooting your computer,” said Osborn.  He highlighted the restorative impact of sleep on both the brain and the body, noting its positive influence on memory, learning, muscle recovery, stress management, and disease prevention.

 

References

  1. Prather AA. Biomarkers of sleep and insomnia-challenges and opportunities. Sleep. 2022 Dec 12;45(12):zsac240. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsac240. PMID: 36173813; PMCID: PMC9742885.
  2. Rudy M. Improve your sleep by optimizing 6 biomarkers: ‘Integral to health. Fox News. Retrieved March 19, 2024, from https://www.foxnews.com/health/improve-sleep-optimizing-biomarkers-integral-health 

 

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