fight insomnia

Did you know that you can fight insomnia just by eating the right food? It is important to fight insomnia the soonest you experience it. This lack of quality sleep has been shown to have a huge impact on our ability to perform tasks of daily living, while also negatively influencing a number of mental and physical markers for health.

Did you know that one third of all Americans are thought to have suffered from at least mild insomnia? Typified by the regular inability to fall asleep, it is thought that thousands of people are left undiagnosed with 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 throughout the night, then you may actually be suffering from insomnia.

Fight Insomnia: Foods to Include in Your Daily Diet

Recent research suggests that what we eat greatly influences the severity of our 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 can be included into your daily diet immediately.


1. Seeds and Nuts

Seeds and nuts contain an abundance of the compound Tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in food and broken down in the body, where it is used in a multitude of growth and developmental processes, including the repair of damaged tissue and new cell production, and the maintenance of normal neural and cognitive function. Tryptophan is also converted into the hormone Serotonin, which is known to increase mood and create sensations of wellbeing and relaxing.

It has been shown that increased levels of Serotonin, in the body, correspond with improved sleep quality, sleep duration, and a greatly increased capacity to fall asleep.

As a result, increasing consumption of seeds and nuts causes huge increases in our body’s serotonin secretion, and therefore fight insomnia.


2. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens (such as baby spinach, kale, and collard greens) are known to contain a huge amount of Magnesium.

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a number of important roles within the human body, including aiding in the production of enzymes, improving muscle relaxation, and causing the reduced secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine (our fight or flight hormones). Through these actions, magnesium has been shown to lead to improved sleep quality and increased relaxation.

Magnesium is only found in trace amounts in foods common to the western diet. With this in mind, it is important to note that dark leafy greens are one of the few foods readily available and easily accessible containing high amounts of magnesium. For this reason, including them in your diet helps fight insomnia.


3. Cherries

Cherries contain a hormone called Melatonin.

While both Melatonin and Serotonin (mentioned above) are essential in their role to keep the body in balance, they act through entirely different mechanisms. Where serotonin acts on the brain to cause sensations of relaxation, Melatonin prepares the body for sleep through the maintenance of our daily circadian cycle. The action of Melatonin actually makes the body more susceptible to Serotonin.

This hormone is typically produced in the body’s Pineal Gland and secreted once the sun goes down or when it becomes dark (during the day the pineal gland remains inactive). As melatonin levels increase, the body begins to feel less alert and more relaxed, improving the ability to fall asleep significantly and fight insomnia.

To maximise your sleep, it is imperative to get additional Melatonin from your diet. Cherries are one of the best dietary options for reducing the effects of insomnia and improving sleep quality.


4. Yoghurt

Yoghurt contains a vast array of vitamins and minerals promoting healthy functions within the body while also providing a good serve of probiotics improving digestive health.

Additionally, yoghurt also provides us with a healthy dose of calcium.

Calcium is an important mineral commonly known for its role in bone and connective tissue production (i.e teeth, bones, nails, tendons, and ligaments ). Additionally, calcium is used in the production of Melatonin.  By being deficient in calcium, the capacity to produce melatonin is greatly limited.


5. Fish

Often overlooked for more popular types of meat (such as poultry and beef), fish is known to contain a huge amount of high quality protein and monounsaturated fatty acids – both of which are known to have health benefits.

Fish (with specific mention to Salmon and Tuna) also contain a huge amount of Vitamin B6.

Similar to other B group Vitamins, B6 is known to play a number of important roles within the human body – one of which includes the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin, which is essential for sleep.

Being deficient in Vitamin B6 results in having reduced serotonin production, which leads to insomnia and poor sleep. By increasing our consumption of fish (and therefore Vitamin B6), we can cause improvements in sleep while staving off insomnia.


Summary

By incorporating specific foods outlined in this article into our diet we can greatly improve our ability to produce essential hormones that are essential for sleep. These hormones have shown to improve relaxation, leading to a better capacity to fall asleep, while also improving the depth of that sleep. These large improvements in sleep quality will greatly reduce the impact of insomnia on health and function.


References

  1. Taylor, Daniel J., Kenneth L. Lichstein, and H. Heith Durrence. “Insomnia as a health risk factor.” Behavioral sleep medicine4 (2003): 227-247. From http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1207/S15402010BSM0104_5
  2. Tanaka, Eizaburo, et al. “Associations of protein, fat, and carbohydrate intakes with insomnia symptoms among middle-aged Japanese workers.” Journal of Epidemiology2 (2013): 132-138. From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23419282
  3. Hartmann, Ernest. “Effects of L-tryptophan on sleepiness and on sleep.” Journal of psychiatric research2 (1983): 107-113. From http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0022395682900127
  4. Schwartz, Ruth, Herta Spencer, and J. Jones Welsh. “Magnesium absorption in human subjects from leafy vegetables, intrinsically labeled with stable 26Mg.” The American journal of clinical nutrition4 (1984): 571-576. Viewed at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6711467
  5. Hornyak, Magdolna, et al. “Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study.” Sleep5 (1998): 501-505. From https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/21/5/501/2725976/Magnesium-Therapy-for-Periodic-Leg-Movements
  6. Turek, Fred W., and Martha U. Gillette. “Melatonin, sleep, and circadian rhythms: rationale for development of specific melatonin agonists.” Sleep medicine6 (2004): 523-532. From http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389945704001315
  7. Howatson, Glyn, et al. “Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality.” European journal of nutrition8 (2012): 909-916. From https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-011-0263-7
  8. Smith, Theresa M., et al. “Absorption of calcium from milk and yogurt.” The American journal of clinical nutrition6 (1985): 1197-1200. From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3934956
  9. Hotta, Carlos T., et al. “Calcium-dependent modulation by melatonin of the circadian rhythm in malarial parasites.” Nature Cell Biology7 (2000): 466-468. From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10878815
  10. Polansky, Marilyn M., and Edward W. Toepfer. “Vitamin B6 components in some meats, fish, dairy products, and commercial infant formulas.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry6 (1969): 1394-1397. From http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf60166a027?journalCode=jafcau
  11. Weissbach, Herbert, et al. “Studies on the effect of vitamin B6 on 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) formation.” Journal of Biological Chemistry227 (1957): 617-624. From https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/19581403597
  12. Sleep Foundation, “Annual sleep in america poll” 2011. From https://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/annual-sleep-america-poll-exploring-connections-communications-technology-use-

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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