Insomnia can have many underlying reasons, from mental health issues to circadian rhythm dysfunctions. When you are having trouble sleeping, one of the first ways you can try to fix the problem is by changing your diet. We believe that it is always a good idea to try a more conservative approach before calling your doctor…
With that in mind, here are some dietary tips that can help you to fight insomnia:
Limit Your Intake Of Stimulants
It is common for people who experience insomnia to spend all day drinking caffeine because they are sleep-deprived. Although it is tempting to keep drinking caffeine to get through your day, you will need to fight the urge. When you have a couple of days where you do not have to get up early for work or school, start weening yourself off the caffeine.
Most people think of caffeine in the form of coffee, soda and energy drinks. However, there are hidden sources of caffeine. You can find small amounts of caffeine in chocolate and even some teas have high amounts of caffeine.
Once you have eliminated caffeine, limit your caffeine intake to a small dose in the morning and another small dose in the early afternoon. The caffeine should be out of your system before bedtime. If you are especially sensitive to the effects of caffeine, you may need to remove it completely from your diet.
Eat A Heavier Breakfast
Most people eat their heaviest meal late in the day. Since larger, fattening meals take longer to digest, this can disrupt your sleep. Digestive problems from high fat meals can also contribute to insomnia. Eat your heavier meals earlier in the day when they have more time to digest properly before bed.
When you have dinner or a late snack, try to stick with a large salad or sandwich, which can be satiating and easy for your stomach to digest. Make sure you are not adding fatty spreads, dressings or sauces, which will be counterproductive. Also, make sure you are not eating any food close to bedtime.
Increase Carbs At Dinner
Carbohydrates are notorious for making you feel tired and sluggish, which is exactly what you want as it nears time for bed. Include pasta, bread, or rice with your dinner. When you are eating to combat insomnia, you want to include simple carbohydrates, which typically use white flour.
Although you may want to eat whole-grain, slow digesting carbs at other times during the day for health reasons, these may have the opposite effect later in the day. If you are concerned about your intake of carbs using white flour, regulate your carbohydrates at other times during the day and save them for dinner.
Up Your Protein
Just as eating more simple carbohydrates late in the day can help you with insomnia, so can eating more protein. You should stick with eating lean proteins because fatty foods can contribute to problems with heartburn and acid reflux.
Some other sources of protein that are helpful are nuts and seeds. These are easy to snack on late in the day if you have already finished dinner or if you do not eat animal proteins. A simple hardboiled egg as a nighttime snack is another way of adding extra protein and it is light enough that it should not interrupt your sleep.
It is common for people to have alcohol with dinner or as a “night cap,” but this can actually make insomnia worse. Alcohol can often make you feel drowsy as it takes effect and it can be tempting for you to use alcohol to help you sleep. However, as the alcohol wears off, there is usually an increase in anxiety. Additionally, alcohol does not help you achieve the restful sleep you need to wake up feeling refreshed.
Try Tryptophan For Dinner
In addition to carbohydrates, foods containing high amounts of tryptophan can also make you feel sleepy. Foods with high amounts of tryptophan are usually lean, white meats such as turkey and chicken. Fish and cottage cheese are also high in their levels of tryptophan. Try to include at least one high-tryptophan food with dinner to help promote sleep.
Eat A Fruit Snack
Some types of fruit are associated with reducing insomnia, such as bananas and tart cherries. You may want to consider making a simple fruit salad using both fruits and eating it as a nighttime snack. Try combining both fruits with yogurt for a sneaky dose of tryptophan. If you are not in the mood to eat a snack, you can also try keeping tart cherry juice on hand and drinking a glass one hour before bed.
Before you consider medications or supplements to help combat insomnia, evaluate your diet to determine if there is anything contributing to insomnia or things you can change. Small dietary changes can pay dividends by helping you get back to a restful night’s sleep.
P.S. – You can also check the video below for a few more tips that can help treat your insomnia naturally…
All the best!