The Best Foods to Eat for Insomnia
If you’ve ever experienced the anxiety, frustration and exhaustion associated with insomnia, the chances are you will have tried most things in an attempt to combat an interrupted night. If you’ve not yet tried looking at your diet as part of your strategy though, you might be surprised to learn that some of the best and most effective natural remedies might just be lurking in your fridge (and cupboards and larder). Read on to discover the best foods to try to reinstate and maintain a good night’s sleep, every night.
When to eat
Although it’s important to choose the right food to eat to help you sleep better, it’s vital that you’re also choosing to eat at the right time. to give yourself the best chance at a good night, avoid eating your evening meal too late, which can disrupt your digestive system and affect your body’s core temperature, causing problems later on in the night.
What to eat
Protein like turkey is a rich source of an amino acid called tryptophan, which the body uses to help produce melatonin, the hormone responsible for inducing sleep. It’s also instrumental in helping your brain and body slow down and switch off, which promotes a more peaceful night’s sleep. If you can, experts believe that combining a source of tryptophan with carbohydrates will help you go one better; that’s because the combination of the two is thought to help make tryptophan more available to the brain.
Bananas are a good source of both potassium and magnesium, minerals which are associated with relaxation and the calming of the nervous system, making them essential in any pre-bed routine. They’re also a good source of tryptophan so if you do struggle with sleep, try consuming one in a smoothie or as a snack on some crackers before you hit the hay.
Another rich source of magnesium which promotes restful sleep, almonds are also excellent at maintaining stable blood sugar levels, which helps the body understand when to switch from a high state of alertness to a more relaxed, ready for bed one. They also contain small amounts of melatonin and are high in zinc, which has a mild antidepressant effect and is said to be useful at preventing night-time wake-ups.
Fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are all good choices for an insomniac’s evening meal as they’re high in both vitamin D and omega-3s, fatty acids which are important for regulating serotonin, the feelgood neurotransmitter that converts into melatonin in the body. Vitamin D receptors are also involved in sleep regulation and in the pathways of production of melatonin too. During the winter months, when the UK population is especially deficient in vitamin D, ensuring you eat around 2-3 portions a week is crucial.
Often found in sleep supplements and other herbal remedies, varieties of tart or sour cherries such as Richmond, Montmorency and Morello cherries are a great shout to try if you have trouble with your sleep. The reason being is that these are believed to have a higher-than-average concentration of melatonin which encourages proper regulation of the circadian rhythm and sleep cycles. Tart cherries, whether in juice or whole form, are also thought to increase the bioavailability of tryptophan in the brain.