Chronic insomnia is not something you should ignore. Whether you can’t seem to fall asleep or you often wake up in the middle of the night, this condition is very damaging to your health. Sleep enables your immune system to strengthen, and chronic insomnia can lead to illnesses, fatigue, headaches, inability to concentrate and focus, and muscle aches. All of this from a simple lack of sleep!
The good news is that most cases of chronic insomnia can be treated easily with a few small changes to your overall diet.
1. Red Meat
A lack of iron in your system can cause muscle aches and cramps and may be associated with restless leg syndrome, all of which often cause chronic insomnia. Red meat is rich in iron and will not only alleviate muscle aches but will also help strengthen the circulatory system. The key however is to have red meat for lunch and not dinner; too much protein at night can keep you awake since the body needs to work hard to break it down and absorb it through the digestive system.
Ever had a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day, and felt like you wanted to go right to sleep? Turkey contain tryptophan, an amino acid that produces serotonin. As with red meat, you want to be careful about eating turkey too close to bedtime as your sleep cycle may be interrupted by all that protein.
Honey is also rich in tryptophan, and this food too will help your body to produce serotonin. Honey contains a type of protein that is easier to digest than the protein in meat, and it also contains a number of essential vitamins and trace minerals. Adding a small amount of honey to a cup of decaffeinated tea before you head to bed can help your body to relax and get to sleep very easily.
4. Whole Grains
Breads made from whole grains contain a high level of complex carbohydrates, and these increase the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that slows down nerve activity and can create a sense of calm and relaxation. You may notice that after eating bread, muffins, and other foods with whole grains, you feel calmer and more relaxed.
At night, the darkness can convert the serotonin produced by whole grains into melatonin, which is what regulates sleep. To help yourself fall asleep at night, have a piece of whole grain toast or a small muffin made with whole grains, and you may feel instantly relaxed.
5. Tart cherries
This fruit actually contains melatonin, the chemical that regulates sleep. Note that melatonin production in the body slows with age, which is why many older adults often have a hard time falling asleep. No matter your age or reason for your chronic insomnia, add some fresh tart cherries to your everyday diet so you can relax more easily and get to sleep more quickly. Try a small handful of tart cherries at night right before bedtime, or put them in the juicer and have a glass of juice to help you relax and get to sleep.
6. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are high in magnesium, which helps the muscles to relax. When your muscles are relaxed, you may fall asleep more easily and more readily. Magnesium is also known to help alleviate anxiety, and being anxious is a common reason for people to toss and turn during the night! Dark leafy greens have a number of healthy vitamins and trace minerals, so they should be a large part of your diet for a number of reasons and not just to treat your chronic insomnia.
Since all these food help to treat your chronic insomnia in one way or another, it’s good to consider adding as many to your diet as you can. Each can help your body to relax and to get to sleep, and to stay asleep all night. Mixing up the variety in your diet can also mean benefiting from all the healthy proteins, vitamins, trace minerals, and fiber offered by each of these foods. You’ll be healthier and sleep better if you increase your intake of all these.