Did You Know That You Can Win the Fight Against Insomnia? Find Out How!
Battling insomnia is not only extremely frustrating, it can have a significant negative impact on health, but sleeping pills can be addictive and come with a host of problems of their own. Instead, fight the insomnia battle naturally by changing up your eating habits.
Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do for your health. While you’re sleeping, the body is repairing and restoring itself. Quality rest helps to ensure that the brain stays functioning properly. That will allow you to resolve problems better, make good decisions, remain more emotionally stable, boost creativity and help you cope better with change.
When you don’t get enough quality sleep, it negatively affects your health in many different ways. For example, the immune system requires sleep to stay strong. If it becomes weaker because of insufficient sleep, it will leave you at an increased risk for common infections. You’ll also have a higher risk of developing diabetes, as sleep affects how the body’s reaction to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. An ongoing sleep deficiency has been linked to a greater risk of other serious problems too, including stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and hypertension.
Unfortunately for many people, getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always an easy thing to do. According to SleepEducation.org, among American adults, about a third experience brief symptoms of insomnia, while 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, meaning it lasts for fewer than three months, and 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, defined by a three times per week or greater occurrence for at least three months. (1)
If you’re one of the millions who are having problems sleeping, avoid an instant fix like sleeping medications, which often come with a long list of unwanted side effects and can be very addictive too. Instead, sleep better naturally by changing some of your eating and drinking habits.
Pay Close Attention To Your Caffeine Intake
Some people are highly affected by caffeine and need to cut it out altogether to enjoy a better night’s rest, while others can simply limit their intake to the morning hours in order for it to not interfere with their sleep.
Caffeine, as well as other stimulants, are one of the first things to think about when battling insomnia. They increase the hormone dopamine which impacts brain function. A higher level of dopamine increases feelings of euphoria and makes you feel more awake. Stimulants can also raise heart rate and increase blood pressure, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports. (2)
While beverages like soda, tea and coffee are the best-known sources of caffeine, it’s also included in some weight loss supplements and can be found in chocolate and chocolate products too. If you aren’t sure how much caffeine is affecting your sleep, it’s best to err on the side of caution and cut it out altogether. Once your sleep patterns return to normal, you may be able to drink a moderate amount (up to 3 cups max) in the morning. While you might experience some short-term withdrawal effects, the rewards of better sleep more than outweigh them.
Limit Your Consumption Of Alcohol
While alcohol isn’t a stimulant, acting like a depressant in the body which can make you feel drowsy and help you fall asleep faster than you normally would, it also affects your REM sleep. As REM sleep is necessary for helping the brain to concentrate and focus during the day, that not only interferes with the quality of your rest, but it can make those day-to-day tasks harder to perform. Similar to caffeine, an individual’s tolerance to alcohol, and how much it affects their sleep can vary. Generally, sticking to the moderate amount of alcohol recommended, which is one drink daily for women and two per day for men, should not mess with your REM sleep, but drinking more than that amount is likely to do so.
Consume Foods That Are Known To Promote Better Sleep
There are a number of foods that offer nutrients that can promote a better night’s sleep. Foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan, famous as the compound in turkey that makes dinner guests want to take a snooze after eating, is also found in chicken, bananas, yogurt, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. (3)
Eating these tryptophan-filled foods helps to promote healthier sleep as tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin, a hormone that helps regulate one’s mood and promote relaxation. The body also uses tryptophan to make melatonin, a hormone that impacts wake and sleep cycles. Bananas are especially good as they offer potassium and magnesium too – if you have a low level of magnesium, it can negatively impact your sleep. One study conducted in 2012 showed that taking a magnesium supplement for 8 weeks was able to alleviate symptoms of insomnia in elderly participants. Potassium also helps to encourage sleep and relaxation as it’s known for lowering blood pressure and relaxing the muscles. (4)
Almonds are another food that offer all three nutrients for better sleep: magnesium, potassium and tryptophan. Tart cherries are one of the rare foods that serves as a source of melatonin, that important sleep hormone. Studies have found that eating dried tart cherries, or drinking the juice twice a day, may help you sleep better at night. (5)
Avoid Refined Carbs
Refined carbs like chips, crackers, cookies, white bread and most cereals, are known to raise blood sugar levels and then cause them to plunge, which can disrupt a healthy sleep cycle. That’s because when blood sugar levels drop, it can signal the brain to wake up. Avoiding these foods will not only help you sleep better, but enjoy optimal health and wellness too. (6)
Eat a Lighter Dinner That Includes Complex Carbs and Protein
What you eat in the evening can have a significant impact on sleep that night. Avoid eating a large or high fat meal as it can place a significant demand on the digestive system, and increase the time it takes to digest food, which can negatively impact sleep. Instead, pair high-protein foods with healthy carbs, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A meal like that will provide you with micronutrients and tryptophan, encouraging healthier sleep patterns.
If you eat dinner hours before you go to bed, you may also want to eat a light, healthy snack just before bed, like a handful of almonds, which will give you a boost of healthy nutrients for sleeping.
Changing What You Eat Reaps Greater Benefits Than Taking a Pill
Changing your eating habits is a much better way to get to the root and resolve sleep problems, than masking issues pharmaceutical medications. You’ll find that you’ll not only better night’s rest, but are much likely to achieve optimal health and perhaps even a slimmer waistline too.