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5 vitamins and minerals to avoid insomnia

by Tina Sendin January 17, 2019

5 vitamins and minerals to avoid insomnia

Insomnia can be such a pain. It’s one of those moments when you feel so helpless and frustrated but really – what can you do other than just toss and turn? Unfortunately, it’s the most common sleeping disorder that affects 30-40% of American adults and millions of people all over the world. [1,2]

There are many tips for getting quality sleep, combined with sleep relaxation techniques, which are now a thing.

But did you know that a well-maintained diet can help you have fewer sleepless nights?

We hear a lot of “what NOT to eat” before bedtime. True enough, certain foods can do more harm than good – indigestion, insomnia, heartburn, gas.

 

But we can always start with knowing which foods help because of the vitamins and minerals they contain. They're known to bring amazing benefits like falling asleep with ease, keeping a splendidly uninterrupted snooze, and waking up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated!

Without further ado, here are 5 vitamins and minerals that promote better sleep.

(Note though that more studies are needed to make a definitive conclusion about the ability of these substances to provide better quality snooze.)

 

Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the key minerals that are important in getting a higher quality snooze. [3In fact, it’s sometimes known as the “sleep mineral” – it helps your brain relax and turn off at night. A lack in magnesium may lead to difficulty in getting that much deserved beauty sleep. 

Magnesium is a natural relaxant, which eases off adrenaline. It helps promote sleep because it’s able to reduce inflammation and tapers down the level of cortisol – the stress hormone infamous for interrupting sleep. [1, 4]

Sources of magnesium include: [5]

  • Dark leafy greens (baby spinach, kale, collard greens)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, flaxseed, pecans). Did you know that almonds are an excellent source of magnesium because they can provide 19% of your everyday magnesium requirement in a single ounce? [6]
  • Wheat germ
  • Fish (salmon, halibut, tuna, mackerel)
  • Soybeans
  • Banana
  • Avocados
  • Low-fat yogurt

Melatonin

Melatonin regulates your body clock’s cycle of sleep and being awake. Also known as the “hormone of darkness”, there are certain parts of the day when it’s high (in the evening) and low (in the morning) - rising levels make you feel sleepy and lower ones keep you alert.

Related article: Melatonin as a sleeping aid: what you need to know

While your body naturally produces melatonin, there are several sources for it, such as the following: [5]

  • Fruits and vegetables (tart cherries, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, pomegranate, olives, grapes, broccoli, cucumber)
  • Grains (rice, barley, rolled oats)
  • Nuts and Seeds (walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, flaxseed)

Melatonin plays a critical role in regulating the body clock. Many people use it as sleeping aid and they take melatonin supplements to get adequate amounts daily.

Calcium

Warm milk before bedtime has solid basis after all. Calcium helps produce more melatonin in your body, and we know how melatonin helps promote better sleep right? Adequate amounts of calcium can steer you clear of waking up in the wee hours and reduce tossing-and-turning.

The following foods are amazing sleep inducers: [5]

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Low-fat milk
  • Cheeses
  • Yogurt
  • Sardines
  • Fortified cereals
  • Soybeans
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Enriched breads and grains
  • Green snap peas
  • Okra
  • Broccoli

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid that turns into serotonin – the happy and relaxing hormones – when ingested. [6As you sleep, serotonin levels go up and adrenaline levels drop. Tryptophan is said to have calming effects in your body and increases melatonin production. [7]

Excellent sources of this amino acid include: [5]

  • Dairy products (milk, low-fat yogurt, cheese)
  • Poultry (turkey, chicken)
  • Seafood (shrimp, salmon, halibut, tuna, sardines, cod)
  • Nuts and seeds (flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts)
  • Legumes (kidney beans, lima beans, black beans split peas, chickpeas)
  • Fruits (apples, bananas, peaches, avocado)
  • Vegetables (spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, asparagus, onions, seaweed)
  • Grains (wheat, rice, barley, corn, oats)

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 also triggers the conversion of tryptophan into melatonin. While B6 deficiency isn’t common in the US, poor diet can bring vitamin levels down and can lead to a drop in serotonin levels, even depression and mood disorders. Low serotonin levels and mood disorder symptoms often result in insomnia.

It’s important to include the following foods in your regular diet to load up on Vitamin B6: [5]

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Fish (tuna, salmon, halibut)
  • Meat (chicken, tuna, lean pork, lean beef,)
  • Dried Prunes
  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Spinach

Drinks that help with sleep

Certain beverages aid in getting a good night’s rest too! These drinks are loaded with the vitamins and minerals mentioned earlier and can give you better shuteye. [5]

  • Warm milk
  • Almond milk
  • Valerian tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Tart cherry juice
  • Passion fruit tea
  • Peppermint tea

Some of these not only make you sleep like a baby. They also strengthen the immune system and reduce anxiety.

In particular, chamomile tea contains unique properties that improve the quality of your bedtime. [8] It has apigenin, which is an antioxidant that binds to certain brain receptors linked to sleepiness. [9, 10]

Bonus

If you want to know more about foods that help you avoid insomnia, then here’s a bonus video for you - 5 Foods to Help You Sleep Through the Night:




Tina Sendin
Tina Sendin

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