Target reading time: 3 mins 25 secs
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Target Reading Time: 3 Mins 25 Secs

Can’t Sleep? These vitamins could be to blame

I bang on all the time about how nutrition affects your brain. It’s why I include a recipe that’s packed with brain fuel in every email, why Heights even exists - to make sure that the fuel you’re putting in your body optimises your brain’s performance, your memory, your ability to learn, make decisions, regulate your mood, and even your sleep.

Sleep is notoriously hard to come by in December, so this week - I thought we’d go into a bit more detail about what specific vitamins can impact the quality, quantity and rhythms of your sleep, and how.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a starring role in your bone health, immune function, inflammation control and mood regulation. When it comes to sleep, recent research shows that a deficiency in vitamin D is linked to lessened sleep quality and shorter amounts of time spent sleeping (especially in those 50+).

It can also increase the severity of symptoms for sleep apnea sufferers, and impact our bio-clocks. This is the really interesting bit: vitamin D may activate two genes responsible for our circadian clocks - which control our 24-hour circadian rhythm. Light and dark are the primary controls of our bio-clocks - and, as sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, that could explain the link between vitamin D and our sleeping patterns.

Food sources of vitamin D: The body makes vitamin D in response to sunlight, but other food sources include fatty fish and fish oils, egg yolks, and some fortified dairy and juices

Is vitamin D in Heights? YES! Read more about it here.

Vitamin E

Cell function is vitamin E’s main function, as well as supporting immune health. As a powerful antioxidant, it may also help with sleep and sleep-centric health issues.

Sleep loss and memory loss go hand in hand. This is because during sleep, your brain processes memories and everything you learn during the day. vitamin E’s antioxidant properties can help with this by protecting your brain health, and offers targeted protection for the hippocampus against blips in memory related to lack of sleep.

Studies have also shown that vitamin E is a common deficiency for those with sleep apnea. In combo with other antioxidants like vitamin C, it can improve breathing at night and sleep quality. Vitamin E also helps to protect testosterone production, which can be affected by lack of sleep.

Food sources of vitamin E: nuts and seeds, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes

Is vitamin E in Heights? YES! Read more about it here.

Vitamin B6 and B12

B vitamins are vital for brain function and development, as well as immune function, cardiovascular health, red blood cell formation and DNA activity.

In sleep, vitamin B6 can help to recall your dreams, and help you to get into the whole lucid dreaming thing (here’s a crazy video about that). It also helps to produce serotonin and melatonin, which are both key for sound, peaceful sleep and regulate mood.

There’s a strong link between depression and sleep issues. From difficulty keeping to any kind of sleep schedule, to insomnia, circadian rhythm disruptions and even hypersomnia - deficiencies in B6 and B12 can impact the risk of depression and its related sleep disorders.

Food sources of vitamin B6 and B12: Bananas, carrots, spinach, and potatoes are great sources of B6, and B12 is found in animal proteins like milk, eggs, cheese, and fish.

Are B vitamins in Heights? YES! Read more about it here.

FOR THE NERDY: Sleep on it

[Source: Psychology Today]

Think fast (your 10 second snippet of science to impress your next meeting/party guests/Uber driver): Light and dark are the primary controls of our bio-clocks - and, as sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, that could explain the link between a lack of vitamin D and poor sleeping patterns.

Vegan Chilli Bake

Cheers to dishy vegan foodie, Gaz Oakley (aka @avantgardevegan), for this slightly posher take on a classic chilli.

"Smokey, tangy, warming comfort food at its finest. Super low cost ingredients and simple to make too, so it's great for students and kids."


Why is it good for my brain?

An awesome vegan protein source, beans are also great brain food. They are high in B vitamins (which are notoriously hard to get as a veggie), omega 3 and fibre and help your brain to communicate with your nervous system. This chilli is also full of anti-inflammatory tomatoes, which due to their carotenoids - help to protect you from neurodegeneration. Cumin, although not a direct brain-booster, does help to promote digestion - which promotes brain health by proxy.

See Full Recipe
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Elevation Station

We talk a lot about the effect of various foods, vitamins and behaviours on the nervous system, but do you... actually get how it works? This satisfyingly fast-paced miniseries from CrashCourse breaks it down. (youtube)
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy is not really a story, or even a series of lessons. It’s sort a collection of snippets of conversations, moments that move you, show you the power of vulnerability, kindness and friendship. (Waterstones)
I don’t generally suggest full series’ for you guys. But The Missing Cryptoqueen is one of the most mind-bogglingly gripping documentaries I’ve heard in ages. A full delve into our mentality around money, cult-culture and the underbelly of organised crime… (BBC Sounds)

Our very own in-house brainiac specialising in sleep, Sophie Bostock. Her feed might make you veryyyyy sleeeeepy, in the best way.

Final Thoughts

We've just completed a 100 person trial for our launch product - The "Smart Supplement" for your brain, and the results are in, so far 83 of those people, after a 3 month trial, have become our very first customers. 83% satisfaction rate is pretty good, we're delighted at HQ!

The most fascinating, or rather, enlightening piece of feedback we've had is from Julian Hearn, the founder of Huel (a nutrition company that's one of the fastest growing in Europe). He took his after a night of heavy drinking, and woke up without a hangover. Having tested his theory 3 times before telling me, I tested it myself only to find that, in fact, it worked!

Speaking to our resident dietitian, Sophie about this, it turns out that there's real credible science behind it too! Your liver needs B vitamins to break down alcohol effectively and the addition of antioxidants from the blueberries and vitamin E will help to clear the toxins associated with alcohol ingestion from your system.

While we would never encourage anyone to binge drink, (NHS guidelines here people) it's fun to know you can look after your brain's health and have the odd get out of jail free card when needed!

If you want to try our "Smart Supplement" before Christmas to end this decade nourishing your brain, just hit reply and I'll share a special Christmas discount code with you before we launch. Until then, I hope you're enjoying the secret santas, mystery mistletoe and popping parties.