The 10 Best Foods for Fighting Insomnia
Do you find it harder and harder to get to sleep? Do you wake up in the early hours of the morning and can’t get back to sleep? Maybe you’re suffering from insomnia. If so, there are some changes in your diet that can help you. Here are the best foods for fighting insomnia! Get ready to rest like a baby every night.
What is insomnia
Insomnia is basically difficulty falling or staying asleep, even when the patient has the chance to do so (i.e. at night, in their bed). This is a very common condition, and the Sleep Foundation states that around 30% of Americans suffer from it. Because insomnia can be caused by a wide variety of factors, it should be solved using more than one approach.
Besides visiting your doctor, you should look into the environmental factors that might be preventing you from getting adequate sleep. For example, too much screen time, or a bright light in the next room could make it more difficult for your brain to really rest. On the other hand, there are some foods that could help you to fall asleep. Keep reading!
Foods for fighting insomnia
Whether your insomnia is due to stress, unexpected problems or other issues, you can try to fight the problem. Here are some foods with known insomnia-fighting benefits that will help your body relax and fall asleep. Try to eat them a little before going to bed to enjoy their benefits:
A cup of warm milk is comforting and ideal for resting. This dairy product has naturally occurrinng tryptophan, a substance that calms anxiety. Tryptophan is so effective that there are artificial versions that you can take for insomnia relief. You can enjoy your milk with a spoonful of honey if you’d like a sweet touch.
This delicious fruit is very nutritious and gives you energy. But, it also can be used to fight insomnia.
Why is this? This is because of its magnesium and potassium content. These are two substances that relax your muscles. (Because of this, sports players eat bananas: this reduces or prevents cramps.)
They can be a good dessert if you want your body to produce more serotonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep.
Nuts in general, and almonds in particular, not only give your body energy. They also give you magnesium. This element has muscle relaxing properties.
- Because of this, they make you sleep. They also prevent or reduce your pains and cramps. Almonds also balance your blood sugar levels.
- It’s worth it to mention that when your glucose is balanced, your brain functions relax.
- A handful of almonds after dinner will make you sleep all night long.
You can also choose nuts that give you healthy fats and increase your melatonin production. You should never choose nuts coated with sugar. The added sugar in them will spike your blood sugar and have the opposite effect!
These small red fruits that we eat for dessert have melatonin. Because of this, they help you if you want to sleep. Melatonin is a hormone responsible for awakeness and sleepiness. When we eat melatonin-rich foods near bedtime, it helps our body relax and get into sleep mode.
After dinner, you can enjoy a delicious cherry juice that you can add nuts too. In either case, don’t add sugar!
5. Whole cereals
Not only do they allow you to sleep. These also increase the quality of your sleep. The carbohydrates found in cereals will increase your serotonin levels, thus making sleep easier and more peaceful. Although iny kind of carb will work for this, is better if you choose whole cereals: besides carbs, they pack lots of other nutrients that are key to a healthy diet.
You can eat a cup of yogurt with a handful of whole cereals for an afternoon snack. This way, when you go to bed, your levels of serotonin will have increased enough to let you sleep for several hours in a row.
6. Chamomile tea
This is an excellent natural relaxant and can be very useful if you have problems sleeping. When you drink chamomile tea -hot or warm-, your body calms down and your muscles relax, making it a great food for fighting insomnia. Also, it’s very effective for reducing your levels of stress, nervousness, and anxiety. A cup of chamomile tea before going to bed is a perfect relaxer.
7. Cooked eggs
One of the reasons you wake up in the middle of the night is because of your appetite.
If you haven’t eaten enough at dinner (or you’ve skipped this meal) your stomach might start rumbling and make your insomnia worse. To avoid this, you can eat filling foods like a cooked egg. When you get rid of your hunger, you can sleep better. Try to have a good dinner filled with foods that will keep you full until the morning!
8. Greek yogurt
This has tryptophan, just like milk. This chemical tells your brain that it’s time to sleep and because of this is one of the best foods for fighting insomnia. Also, Greek yogurt gives you calories and protein that will keep you full until it’s time for breakfast.
Although any yogurt will work, Greek yogurt doesn’t have as much lactose or sugar as other kinds. Because of this, it’s healthier, won’t spike your blood sugar levels and will keep you full for longer.
It’s an excellent idea to add honey as a natural sweetener instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Its chemical compound gives you substances with light sleep aid properties that relax your brain. To enjoy their benefits, sweeten any tea that you drink at night with a teaspoon of honey.
Do you ever watch a movie on your couch and enjoy some delicious popcorn? This is another food rich in tryptophan! Because of this, popcorn is one of the best foods for fighting insomnia. It increases your serotonin production, leading to a better night’s sleep.
To enjoy its benefits, we recommend you watch animated films, comedies, or romantic movies. Don’t watch horror, action, or science fiction because this makes your brain more alert.
What foods should you avoid when you have insomnia?
Just like there are great foods for fighting insomnia, some others will have the complete opposite effects. We especially recommend that you don’t eat them for dinner or before going to bed:
1. Fast food
Hamburgers, French fries, and pizza aren’t good for your health or sleep. These are foods that are rich in fat that slows down your digestion.
- If you suffer from heartburn, don’t eat fast food for dinner.
- If you’re going to go to a party or a meeting where they serve this kind of food, try to wait three hours after eating to go to bed.
2. Chocolate and coffee
When it’s cold, some people go to bed with a cup of coffee and a chocolate pastry. In summer you might eat ice cream before sleeping. However, none of them are good if you have problems with insomnia.
These foods have ingredients that activate your brain. They keep you alert for several hours.
So, chocolate and coffee should only be eaten or drunk until the afternoon. Instead, try to eat foods for fighting insomnia before bed, like a cup of chamomile tea or even popcorn.
3. Alcohol and soft drinks
Alcoholic and soft-drinks also excite your nervous system. Also, they cause dehydration and reduce your brain’s functions. It’s not wise to drink them before going to bed.
So now that you know what to eat to fight insomnia, get ready to sleep like a baby!
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Filippini T, Violi F, D’Amico R, Vinceti M. The effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure in hypertensive subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cardiol. 2017 Mar 1;230:127-135.
- Zisapel N. New perspectives on the role of melatonin in human sleep, circadian rhythms and their regulation. Br J Pharmacol. 2018;175(16):3190-3199. doi:10.1111/bph.14116
- Warren MD, Pont SJ, Barkin SL, Callahan ST, Caples TL, Carroll KN, Plemmons GS, Swan RR, Cooper WO. The effect of honey on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for children and their parents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Dec;161(12):1149-53.