Diet and Nutrition for Insomnia

Many factors cause insomnia. And among these, improper diet and nutrition is an important factor which causes insomnia in many people. Diet and nutrition is especially important for treating sleep disorders.

While some foods trigger sleep in us, some tend to suppress it.

What to Include in Insomnia Diet?

When we say an insomnia diet, what does it exactly mean? It means what foods to include in the diet that would promote a good sleep and what foods to avoid that would lead to sleeplessness. Making diet related modifications is necessary in order to cut down on the intake of pills and medications for treating insomnia, as sleeping pills come with unwanted side-effects, are addictive and can make a person dependent.

It is necessary for insomnia patients to make diet related modifications. This is because, a daily diet which includes foods that induce sleep effect can help with the sleeplessness. Food consumed plays an important role on the amount of sleep that one gains.

Foods which promote a healthy sleep

  • Foods rich in chlorophyll, especially green or leafy vegetables either boiled or steamed help in promoting sleep.
  • Fruits, such as lemons and mulberries, have a calming effect on the mind.
  • Carbohydrates rich foods boost serotonin, which promotes better sleep.
  • Add enough vitamin B6 oriented food for a good sleep.
  • Oyster shell.
  • Whole wheat, oats and brown rice have a soothing effect on the nervous system and the mind.
  • All types of mushrooms.
  • Jujube seeds calm down your spirit and induces healthy sleep.
  • Chia seeds are also known to act as sedatives.
  • One of the oldest but the best remedies for insomnia is to drink warm milk mixed with honey.
  • Lettuce has a long-standing reputation for promoting healthy sleep. People suffering from sleep disorders should make sure to include lettuce in their evening diet.
  • Your night meal should include peanuts, legumes, fish, nutritional yeast and poultry. All these foods contain Niacin, commonly known as vitamin B3. Niacin helps with the synthesis of serotin that aids in triggering sleep.
  • Lettuce juice mixed with a little lemon juice for flavor is an effective sleep-inducing drink.
  • Evening times, eat figs, bananas, yogurt, dates, tuna, milk and nut butter. These foods are high in tryptophan, which promotes sleep.
  • Snacks like cookies, crackers, toast and fruit toast help in releasing serotonin.
  • Have a cup of chamomile tea before going to bed, which calms down your digestive system, and relieves muscle tension by inducing a sleep.
  • Have a cup catnip tea before sleep which induces a sound and restful sleep.
  • Foods rich in protein, viz. pulses (soy beans), chicken, eggs and dairy products (milk, yogurt, butter, cheese; all of them contain serotonin that is useful for triggering sleep) are good at inducing sleep.
  • Cherries contain melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in our body that promotes sleep. People who suffer from insomnia and those who can’t remain asleep for long during nights can benefit by adding cherries to their diet.
  • Bananas, despite being high-energy foods contain the important serotonin and potassium that are necessary for gaining a good sleep. Even scientific evidences exist which say that bananas help induce sleep.
  • Foods rich in carbohydrates are also high in serotonin.

Foods Which Cause Insomnia

  • Coffee and tea
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate
  • Cola
  • Alcohol
  • Stimulants
  • Refined carbohydrates, as they are known to drain the B vitamins from the body
  • Preservatives
  • Additives
  • Non-organic foods containing pesticides
  • Canned foods
  • Sugar and foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates should be avoided in dinner; these foods raise blood-sugar levels and disturb sleep
  • Spicy foods, fatty foods, foods flavored with garlic, cucumber, beans and peanuts
  • Foods such as meat that are high in protein can inhibit sleep by blocking the synthesis of serotonin, making us feel more alert
  • Do avoid Chinese food in your dinner; most Chinese food items contain monosodium glutamate which is a stimulant that keeps one from sleeping
  • Don’t take a large heavy meal just before going to bed
  • Avoid high-protein foods in the hour or two before bed time
  • Having a heavy meal before going to bed must be strictly avoided

Click here to know more about the foods that cause insomnia.

Improper Diet Can lead to Insomnia in Children Too!

Does your little kid struggle hard to fall asleep at night? Does he wake up too sleepy and dull to go to school? Has he become unusually moody and highly irritable? Does he find it difficult to concentrate on something for a long time? Is he becoming forgetful and inattentive? If yes, then your little kid might be suffering from insomnia.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder and children and adults are equally susceptible to it. Stress could be the primary underlying cause of insomnia both in adults and children. In case of children an unhealthy diet is also a potential reason for them to suffer from insomnia.

You should strictly monitor what your child eats. If he is also heavily dependent on the fast-food and other processed foods for his daily nutrition then its time to bring about a change. Make sure he avoids all junk food and all sorts of aerated drinks. Also make it a routine to give him a glass of milk before he goes to bed.

Insomnia is not a disease but a symptom which is because of mental and physical stress. Your diet plays an important role is reducing or increasing this stress. Therefore follow a healthy diet and feel the difference in your insomnia symptoms.

‘5’ Diet Guidelines

  1. Water is a very important part of following a healthy diet. Drink 6-8 glasses of distilled water per day. Water cleanses and hydrates your body.
  2. Drink 3 to 4 cups of herbal tea every day. Medicinal ingredients in herbal tea will improve your blood circulation and makes your body system better.
  3. A light bed time snack will help you relax. Warm milk, a slice of turkey, a slice of toast with peanut butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, chicken, tuna, ice cream, cashews, soy beans, or a small bowl of cereals will help your body functioning. They are helpful because an amino acid called tryptophan (as mentioned earlier), found in them helps the brain produce serotonin, a chemical that helps you relax by making you sleepy.
  4. Maintain the iron levels in your body. Iron element is very essential for your overall health and improves your ability to sleep.
  5. Avoid stimulants at least 3-4 hours before your bedtime. Stimulants like coffee, colas and alcohol can depress your central nervous system making it difficult for you to sleep.

Keep a healthy diet to establish a sleep pattern that will help you overcome insomnia.