Diet and Insomnia - Foods to Help You Sleep

Diet and Insomnia – Foods to Help You Sleep

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Like any machine, our bodies require fuel in order to operate to full capacity.  Sugar, for instance, is immediately absorbed and converted into energy. Protein, however, metabolizes in our bodies at a much slower rate. The foods we consume not only give us nourishment, but also create different chemical reactions.

A person who has just started a low-carbohydrate diet will usually experience insomnia. They think the reason they can’t get to sleep is because they’re hungry. That’s not necessarily true – it’s the deprivation of carbohydrates that’s the culprit.

If our bodies are not receiving the proper amount of complex carbohydrates we can’t produce serotonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. We require the presence of serotonin to enable us to not only fall asleep, but stay asleep as well. Raising serotonin levels also benefits people who are suffering from anxiety or depression. You’ll find carbohydrates in fruit, vegetables, rice, whole grains, pasta, bread, potatoes, and cereals.

Too much food before bedtime
As our digestive processes slow down at night, it gets more difficult to digest food. Make sure you don’t eat heavy meals within 4 hours of going to bed. This way you will avoid the potential discomfort of bloating and heartburn when you lie down to go to sleep. Also, if you eat the wrong type of food too close to bedtime, you’re probably going to have problems getting to sleep and staying asleep during the night.

A light snack rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber and minerals eaten approximately 90 minutes before bed, however, can aid in the sleeping process and prevent you from waking up in the middle of the night due to low blood sugar.

Another sleep-inducing agent is Tryptophan, which is an amino acid found in dairy products, poultry, fish, certain fruits, nuts and seeds. Incidentally, people who like to drink a warm glass of milk to help them get to sleep but are watching their fat intake will be happy to know that there is just as much tryptophan in skim milk as whole milk.

Foods rich in tryptophan

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Halibut
  • Shrimp
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Bananas
  • Figs
  • Dates
  • Grapefruit
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Nut butter
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Whole grain crackers

Eat foods rich in magnesium
Magnesium has a tranquilizing effect. A lack of magnesium can cause insomnia, anxiety, muscle cramps, constipation and pain. This natural sedative is also used as a remedy for regulating blood pressure, reducing risk of type II diabetes, heart attack and osteoporosis, and alleviating PMS, migraines and restless leg syndrome.

Diet and Insomnia - Foods to Help You Sleep

The following foods are loaded with magnesium:

  • Banana
  • Artichokes
  • Figs
  • Dates
  • Raisins
  • Avocados
  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Oysters
  • Scallops
  • Black beans
  • Lima beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pinto beans
  • Navy beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils
  • Spinach
  • Beet greens
  • Broccoli
  • Microalgae (chlorella and spirulina)
  • Quinoa
  • Peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Pumpkin
  • Corn
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Bulgur
  • Barley
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Buckwheat
  • Wheat bran
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Whole grains (bread and cereal)

Eat foods rich in calcium
It’s a fact that 99% of the calcium that comes into our bodies is stored in our teeth and bones to keep them strong and healthy.  The remaining percentage goes towards maintaining our muscles, blood and fluids. Calcium is one of the most important and plentiful minerals that reside in our bodies, totaling about 1.5% of our entire body weight.


Calcium is crucial for helping and regulating blood pressure, blood clotting and blood vessel and muscle contraction and expansion. Calcium also aids in preventing and curing insomnia, PMS, obesity, colon cancer, osteoporosis, rickets, and stroke.

Here are some foods that are rich in calcium:

  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Turnip, mustard, dandelion and collard greens
  • Soybean
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Fortified cereals
  • Enriched breads and grains

The following foods fall into their own individual categories:

  • Cherries. Cherries contain high amounts of melatonin, which is yet another sleep-inducing compound. If you don’t want to drink the 8 ounces of juice too close to bedtime because of the having-to-get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-pee factor, you can eat a cup of cherries instead. Tart cherry tablet supplements are also an option.
  • Mushrooms. (all varieties)
  • Herbs. (dill and basil)
  • Lettuce. Lettuce contains an opium-related compound which is known to promote healthy sleep. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, make lettuce a regular item on your evening menu.

Here’s some nighttime snack suggestions that will help you get to sleep and stay asleep:

  • A small serving of white cheese with whole grain crackers
  • Yogurt, fruit and granola
  • Any type of nut butter on whole grain toast
  • An egg with whole grain toast
  • A small piece of fish with brown rice
  • Fruit with cottage cheese
  • A bowl of oatmeal with a little milk and fruit
  • A fruit smoothie made with yogurt
  • High fiber fortified cereal and milk
  • A handful of nuts
  • Some avocado and tortilla chips
  • One half sandwich with turkey or chicken breast on whole grain bread
  • Rice cakes with nut butter
  • Almonds with slices of fruit

So, experiment with these foods to help you sleep and see what works the best for you!

Other insomnia related articles:
Types of Insomnia
Top Causes of Insomnia
How to go to Sleep – 48 Tips to Help Cure your Insomnia
Diet and Insomnia – Foods That Cause Insomnia
Allergies and Insomnia
Should you use Antihistamines for Insomnia?
Aromatherapy for Insomnia – It makes Scents
Acupressure for Insomnia – Getting to the point
The Benefits of Using Acupuncture for Insomnia
Hypnosis for Insomnia
Meditation to Help Cure Insomnia
Menopause and Insomnia
Children and Insomnia
Pregnancy Insomnia
Alcohol and Insomnia
Twelve Tips to Prevent the Effects of Jet Lag
Altitude Insomnia

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