Top 5 Foods to Fight Insomnia and Improve Your Sleep Quality

Did you know that you can rely on foods to fight insomnia and improve your sleep quality?  It is important to fight insomnia as soon as you notice it.  This lack of quality sleep can have a huge impact on your daily life if it goes on too long.  It can also have negative impacts on a number of mental and physical health markers.

Did you know that one third of all Americans have suffered from at least mild insomnia? Typified by the regular inability to fall asleep, scientists think that thousands of people have undiagnosed insomnia each year.

With this is mind, if you have difficulty falling asleep in the initial stages of going to bed, or find yourself waking regularly during the night, then you may actually be suffering from insomnia.

Foods to Fight Insomnia: Include These in Your Daily Diet

Recent research suggests that what we eat greatly influences insomnia.  This has come with the realization that certain foods greatly improve sleep quality, helping fight insomnia.

So with all that in mind, we have outlined the top 5 foods to fight insomnia that you can include in your daily diet right now!

1. Seeds and Nuts

Seeds and nuts are rich in an amino acid called tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in food and broken down in the body, where it is used in many of growth and developmental processes, such as:

  • the repair of damaged tissue
  • the production of new cells
  • the maintenance of normal nerve signaling
  • the maintenence of normal cognitive function

Tryptophan is also converted into the hormone serotonin, which is known to increase mood and relaxation.

Importantly for insomnia, studies also show that  increased levels of serotonin in the body correspond with improved sleep quality, sleep duration, and an easier time falling asleep.

As a result, by increasing tryptophan and serotonin levels in your body, increasing your intake of seeds and nuts may be able to help you  fight insomnia.

2. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens (such as baby spinach, kale, and collard greens) contain a huge amount of magnesium.

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a number of important roles within the human body.  It aids in the production of enzymes, relaxes muscles, and helps reduce epinephrine and norepinephrine levels (our fight or flight hormones).  Through these actions, magnesium can increase relaxation and improve sleep quality.

Magnesium is only found in trace amounts in foods common to the western diet.  In fact, dark leafy greens are one of the few foods readily available that have high amounts of magnesium.  By adding dark leafy greens to your diet, you can increase your magnesium intake and ease your insomnia symptoms.

3. Cherries

Cherries contain a hormone called melatonin.

While both melatonin and serotonin (mentioned above) are important for controling your sleeping patterns, they act through very different mechanisms.

See, serotonin acts on the brain to help you relax, while melatonin prepares the body for sleep by helping regulate your daily circadian cycle.  The actions of melatonin actually makes the body more receptive to those of serotonin.

Melatonin is made in the body’s pineal gland and secreted once the sun goes down (or you turn off your lights).  (During the day the pineal gland remains inactive).  As melatonin levels increase, the body begins to feel less alert and more relaxed, helping you fall asleep.

To maximize your sleep, it is helpful to get extra melatonin from your diet.  Cherries are one of the best dietary options for getting a boost of melatonin and improving your sleep quality.

4. Yogurt

Though yogurt gets lots of attention for its probiotics and its ability to boost gut health, yogurt may also be able to improve the health of your sleep.  This is because yogurt provides you with a healthy dose of calcium.

Related: Probiotics Improve Gut Health? Here’s What Science Says.

Calcium is an important mineral commonly known for its role in keeping bone and connective tissue healthy (i.e teeth, bones, nails, tendons, and ligaments ).

But, calcium is also important for helping produce melatonin.  In fact, having a calcium deficiency can cause you to be unable to make enough melatonin!  This, of course, can lead to insomnia.

By eating calcium-rich yogurt, you can keep calcium deficinies at bay and keep your melatonin production in fulls swing.

5. Fish

Often overlooked for more popular types of meat (such as poultry and beef), fish contains high quality protein, healthy fats and vitamin B6.

Similar to other B group vitamins, B6 has a number important roles in the human body.  As far as sleep is concerned, vitamin B6’s most important job is helping convert tryptophan into serotonin.

Being deficient in vitamin B6 results in having reduced serotonin production, which leads to insomnia and poor sleep.

So, by increasing your fish intake (and, therefore, your vitamin B6 intake), you can improve your sleep and avoid insomnia.

Take Home Message

By adding the foods outlined in this article into your diet you can greatly improve your ability to produce hormones that are important for sleep.  These hormones improve relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep.  They also improve how deep you sleep and how long you stay asleep.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Well judging by this list it’d seem that some yogurt with some cherries and nuts in it would be a perfect bedtime snack! I’ll have to get some cherries at the store next time I’m there 🙂

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