Many people are affected by insomnia, with many of them just accepting a lack of adequate sleep as normal. Insomnia can be a symptom of a number of easy to miss health conditions or situations. Nutrition and lifestyle factors, illness, medication, physical pain, too much stimulation before bedtime, or an insufficiently dark bedroom can all be contributing factors in cases of insomnia, but excessive worrying, anxiety and depression often appear to be the root source.
Most people think of insomnia as an inability to fall asleep, however, it can also manifest as waking up throughout the night or repeatedly waking up earlier than planned. Identifying the contributing causes of your insomnia is essential to addressing it in conjunction with nutrition and lifestyle changes. Below are some of the most beneficial foods and herbs for those struggling with insomnia.
Chamomile contains sweet bright blue essential oils that soothe and restore the nervous system and to induce good sleep. Chamomile also contains a level of calcium which will feed the nervous system and help it to restore itself and re-balance when under stress. Chamomile is also an excellent anti-spasmodic and can be highly beneficial in anxiety related stomach cramps. Chamomile is another herb that is beneficial and safe for use with children.
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and magnesium, both of which are muscle relaxants. Bananas contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP and is then converted into serotonin and melatonin, essential for healthy sleep patterns. Bananas are also a great source of vitamin B6, which is also needed for the production of serotonin.
Chia seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, which boosts levels of serotonin and melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. They are also high in omega-3s, which studies have also shown can be very beneficial to those with sleep disturbances.
Chicken contains high levels of the amino-acid tryptophan, which the body uses to create serotonin. Serotonin is then used to synthesize melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Chicken also contains B-vitamins that also help to promote healthy nerves and sleep. Try to eat organic or free range where possible, and combine with a little carbohydrate to help the tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier.
Oats contain the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, as well as B-vitamins that play an important role in the production of neurotransmitters that affect healthy sleep cycles. They’re also a good source of tryptophan, the amino acid precursor to serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin, the sleep hormone. Additionally, oats are rich in calcium and magnesium, known to be helpful in getting restful sleep.
Salmon is a good source of tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin and sleep-inducing melatonin. It is also high in vitamin B6, which is also needed to make these neurotransmitters. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, shown in studies to improve quality and duration of sleep. Salmon is also an excellent source of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which aid in relaxation and healthy sleep.
Passion flower is a strong hypnotic and sedative. Particularly good at alleviating restlessness and insomnia in individuals suffering from nervous exhaustion and debility. Also effective in easing spasms, convulsions, and neuralgic pain. Works very well as a simple (used as a single herb, not in combination in a formula) or in a formula.
Take with 1-2gs organic ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) at night. This helps to nourish the nervous system, reproductive system and helps you sleep. A recently published study indicates that key constituents in Withania somnifera (WS) may have an important role in the development of pharmacological treatments for neurological disorders associated with GABAergic signalling dysfunction such as general anxiety disorders, sleep disturbances, muscle spasms, and seizures. In addition, the differential activation of GABA receptor subtypes elucidates a potential mechanism by which WS accomplishes its reported adaptogenic properties.
Kava has been used for its ability to ease anxiety and combat sleep problems for centuries. Taken as a tea or tincture, it is an effective herbal sedative. Note: Use kava in moderation as cases of liver damage as a result of over-consumption of this powerful plant have been reported.