This narrative review explores the relationship between sleep and nutrition. Various nutritional interventions have been shown to improve sleep including high carbohydrate, high glycaemic index evening meals, melatonin, tryptophan rich protein, tart cherry juice, kiwifruit and micronutrients. Sleep disturbances and short sleep duration are behavioural risk factors for inflammation, associated with increased risk of illness and disease, which can be modified to promote sleep health. For sleep to have a restorative effect on the body, it must be of adequate duration and quality; particularly for athletes whose physical and mental recovery needs may be greater due to the high physiological and psychological demands placed on them during training and competition. Sleep has been shown to have a restorative effect on the immune system, the endocrine system, facilitate the recovery of the nervous system and metabolic cost of the waking state and has an integral role in learning, memory and synaptic plasticity, all of which can impact both athletic recovery and performance. Functional food-based interventions designed to enhance sleep quality and quantity or promote general health, sleep health, training adaptations and/or recovery warrant further investigation.
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