Insomnia can be exhausting! Trying to fall asleep when the brain is wide awake creates problems the next day with energy, focus, mood, pain and motivation.
Unfortunately, this usually leads to various caffeinated beverages consumed throughout the day that are often full of calories, sugar, chemicals or fat, resulting in a ‘tired but wired’ sensation and the potential for weight gain.
The cycle is tough to break, but these three foods are known to promote a better night’s sleep. So try them tonight and stop endlessly counting sheep!
1) Tropical fruit
Tropical fruit such as pineapple, bananas, and oranges should be eaten in the evening or before bed. Consider adding a fat with it, such as some almond butter or a hard-boiled egg if the sugar will be a problem. These fruits have been shown in the research to raise the 6-sulfatoxymelatonin levels by 266 percent, 180 percent, and 47 percent respectively!
Melatonin is made in the pineal gland, and rises during the night to help with sleep, healing, and repair of the body, when cortisol drops down.
Eating half of an avocado provides 345 mg of potassium and almost 20 mg of magnesium. These nutrients are helpful for both preventing restless leg syndrome, and achieving overall relaxation, both of which can pose problems when trying to fall asleep.
RLS affects thousands of men and women at night, resulting in a poor night’s rest and subsequent exhaustion the next day. It is classified as a sensorimotor disorder. People experience uncomfortable sensations in their legs causing them to want to move, twitch, shake, kick, scratch, stretch, and/or get up and walk around.
The cause is not entirely understood, however deficiencies in nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron, have been linked to RLS. Neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain have been associated with this syndrome.
3) Foods rich in calcium
Foods with high levels of calcium, such as leafy greens, dairy products, almonds, broccoli and sardines are beneficial when you're hoping for sleep. Calcium plays an important role in muscle contraction and relaxation. If tenseness and tightness is a concern when trying to fall asleep, calcium-rich foods in the evening may offer necessary support.
Some people experience low blood sugar in the middle of the night, causing them to wake up in the early hours and feel poorly. This often occurs when a large amount of sugar in processed foods or alcohol is consumed prior to bedtime. While working on sleep habits, cut these products out, or limit them through the week.
And remember to stop phone/computer/tablet use one to two hours before bed. The light emitted from electronics can suppress melatonin production, resulting in insomnia. The goal is a healthy night’s rest in order to wake up feeling refreshed!
1) Dreher, M. and Davenport, A. (2013). Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.
2) Johns, N., Johns, J., Porasuphatana, S., Plaimee, P., and Sae-Teaw, M. (2013). Dietary intake of melatonin from tropical fruit altered urinary excretion of 60sulfatoxymelatonin in healthy volunteers.
3) Venkateshiah, S. and Ioachimescu, O. (2015). Restless Leg Syndrome.
4) Wakabayashi, T. (2015). Mechanism of Calcium-regulation of muscle contractions – In pursuit of its structural basis.
Reviewed July 28, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith