Insomnia | causes | prevention| treatment

Foods to help fight insomnia

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Insomnia is the inability to get the amount of sleep we need to wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Because different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by the quality of sleep and how we feel after sleeping not the number of hours we sleep or how quickly we doze off.

Even if we are spending eight hours a night in bed, if we feel drowsy and fatigued during the day, we may be experiencing insomnia. Insomnia includes a wide range of sleeping disorders, from lack of quality of sleep to lack of quantity of sleep.

Insomnia is said to be present when you regularly find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. It has several patterns. You may have trouble getting to sleep initially. Or even if you can fall asleep, you might not be able to stay asleep for as long as you would like. Also you may wake up during the night and not be able to go back to sleep for a long time. Many people have two of the above problems, or even all three. Because of these, you might feel tired during the day.

The following is the list of foods that can help you sleep

  1. Chamomile Tea

Many believe that a piping hot cup of tea will make you full alert like an owl. But if you replace your regular teacup with a cupful of chamomile tea, the benefits are immense. Research also proves that regular drinking of chamomile tea helps to boost the immune system, reduces anxiety and depression which are some of the primary reasons for sleep disorders. Chamomile tea also contains the antioxidant Apigenin. This antioxidant binds the receptors in the brain that augment sleepiness and prevents insomnia. Moreover, this herbal tea also helps in calming down the nerves when consumed before bedtime.

2. Fatty Fish

A research study found that fatty fish may be a good food for better sleep. The study over a period of months found that people who ate salmon three times per week had better overall sleep as well as improved daytime functioning.

Researchers believe that fatty fish may help sleep by providing a healthy dose of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are involved in the body’s regulation of serotonin. This study focused particularly on fish consumption during winter months when vitamin D levels tend to be lower.

3. Almonds

Almonds are a type of tree nut with many health benefits. They’re an excellent source of many nutrients, as 1 ounce (28 grams) of the dry roasted nuts contains 18% of an adult’s daily needs for phosphorus and 23% for riboflavin.

Eating almonds regularly has been associated with lower risks of a few chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This is attributed to their healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and antioxidants.

It’s been claimed that almonds may help boost sleep quality as well. This is because almonds, along with several other types of nuts, are a source of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin regulates your internal clock and signals your body to prepare for sleep.

Almonds are also an excellent source of magnesium, providing 19% of your daily needs in only 1 ounce. Consuming adequate amounts of magnesium may help improve sleep quality, especially for those who have insomnia.

4. Poultry 

Chicken or turkey has tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that you can only get from what you eat and drink. It helps your body make serotonin (a relaxing mood hormone) which then helps your body make melatonin (a hormone that controls sleep cycles).

5. Kiwis

Science suggests that the very nutritious Kiwi is one of the best foods to consume before hitting the sack! The fruit not only helps you to fall asleep quickly but also ensure that you sleep well through the night without waking up.

6. Bananas

“Bananas help fight insomnia in three powerful ways.” They are a source of magnesium, serotonin, and melatonin,” both precursors to melatonin and serotonin, important hormones that regulate sleep says Palinski-Wade. “Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate sleep as well as mood and appetite and magnesium promotes sleep by helping to decrease the level of cortisol in the body, a hormone that is known to interrupt sleep.”

7. White rice

White rice is a grain that’s widely consumed as a staple food in many countries.

The major difference between white and brown rice is that white rice has had its bran and germ removed. This makes it lower in fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants.

White rice is high in carbs, providing 22 grams in a 4-ounce (79-gram) serving. Its carb content and lack of fiber contribute to its high glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food increases your blood sugar.

It’s been suggested that eating foods with a high GI, such as white rice, at least 1 hour before bed may help improve sleep quality 

8. Drink a Glass of Milk

Milk may help control melatonin production since it is a great source of calcium, a mineral that plays a role in the regulation of melatonin in the body. Milk is also rich in the amino acid tryptophan which is a precursor of melatonin and has a calming effect on the body.

Interestingly, milk collected from cows at night, known as night milk, may be particularly helpful in promoting sleep. In a lab study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, mice were given night milk, day milk (milk collected during the day) or Valium (diazepam), a sedative and antianxiety drug, followed by a sleep-inducing drug. Mice that drank night milk fell asleep more quickly, slept for a longer duration and had reduced anxiety compared to mice that drank day milk. These effects were similar to those seen in the mice treated with Valium. The researchers attributed these benefits to exceptionally high amounts of tryptophan and melatonin in night milk. A comparable product is not yet available in the United States, but the researchers suggest that night milk might be an effective natural aid for managing sleep-related disturbances and a promising alternative for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

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