If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you may rethink your diet to fight insomnia. While getting to the root cause of your sleeping problems is the best way to treat* insomnia in the long run, you could also get some shut eye with the help of sleep-promoting foods. Sleep is a complex process triggered by both external and internal factors. Well, some of these internal factors can be influenced by eating the right kind of foods. In case you were wondering what foods you should be eating to finally get some rest, here are some suggestions.
Almonds are a rich source of tryptophan and magnesium. While magnesium is a mineral functioning as a muscle-relaxant, tryptophan is an amino acid that is a precursor for serotonin and melatonin production. These two neurotransmitters are important for normal sleep, and low levels of both are observed in chronic insomniacs. A study published in the Journal of Natural Medicine found that giving almond extract to rats resulted in them becoming less active and even sleeping longer than controls. EEG recordings also observed a prolonged duration of NREM sleep suggesting that almonds can even improve* sleep quality. So, in case you have problems with falling asleep or even anxiety disorder, make sure to eat a handful of almonds before bedtime.
Whole Grains and Brown Rice
The rise in refined grain products might be one cause for the increased incidence of insomnia worldwide. According to one study published in Current Signal Transduction Therapy, the loss of key components from whole grain products might explain the 30% incidence of insomnia observed worldwide. For instance, brown rice is a rich source of the amino acid GABA which is the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps promote sleep. Brown rice is also a rich source of potassium, magnesium, and calcium which are also important for normal neurotransmitter functioning. If you switch to eating whole grain products, you may soon notice an improvement in your sleeping patterns.
Cherries are a rich source of phytochemicals, particularly melatonin which is an important neurotransmitter helping regulate sleep. Drinking cherry juice before bedtime may increase* the levels of melatonin in your blood and make you feel sleepy. This was confirmed in one study that measured the urinary levels of melatonin in those who drank cherry juice in comparison to those who did not. The juice in this particular study was taken from the Tart Montmorency cherries which are especially rich in melatonin.
Asparagus is less known as a neuroprotective food in the West but is much appreciated in Chinese traditional medicine. However, recent studies have found that asparagus may offer a strong anxiolytic effect. Most of these studies used asparagus extract on animal models and most have found that asparagus truly does induce calmness. Human studies are needed to confirm that asparagus is a natural anxiolytic that could help with anxiety-caused insomnia.
Milk is another rich source of melatonin that can help you get a good night’s rest. According to one study done on older adults, drinking melatonin-rich milk before bedtime can improve* sleep quality in this age group. Aging is known to a cause a decline in melatonin production which can result in insomnia and restlessness in the aging adult. Increasing* your intake of melatonin-rich foods is one way to combat this age-related decline in melatonin levels. The sleep-promoting effect of milk was further confirmed in a recent study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food that found that milk collected at night had higher concentrations of melatonin in comparison with milk collected at other times of the day.
Maca root has been traditionally used by the Peruvians for various health-promoting benefits. Modern science has found that the maca plant contains components that can balance the hormones, especially in menopausal women. Because sleep problems can sometimes be a result of hormonal imbalances, maca may provide some relief to those experiencing insomnia as a result of hormonal problems. One study even found that maca was highly effective in relieving menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats and improve* overall sleep quality in these women.
Insomnia is a dangerous condition that, if left untreated, can lead to adverse health outcomes. Diabetes, obesity, and heart disease are all conditions that are found in chronic insomniacs. While the causes of insomnia are varied, ranging from medical problems, hormonal imbalances, psychiatric disturbances to temporary stress, treatment options are still limited and unsuccessful. One way you could treat* insomnia is by including the foods listed here into your diet. Some of the foods are found to be especially effective in helping you feel sleepy when taken at night. However, if you have persistent insomnia, it might be best to consult a doctor to get to the root cause of your sleep problems before they start impacting your health.