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Foods That Help the Body Fight Insomnia

by Julie Hampton

Overview

Insomnia is the inability to fall or stay asleep. The condition may last a few days or become a long-term condition. A variety of factors including depression, anxiety, certain medical conditions and side effects of medications cause insomnia. A nonpharmacology approach to treating insomnia includes diet. A variety of foods and beverages may increase sleep. If changing your dietary habits does not fix your bout with insomnia, see a medical professional.

High-Carbohydrate Foods

According to the University of Michigan Health System, eating high-carbohydrate foods before bedtime increases levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin decreases stress and anxiety while promoting rest. High-carbohydrate foods include pasta, peanut butter sandwiches, oatmeal or a glass of milk. Eat high-carbohydrate foods within four hours of bedtime, suggests ReadersDigest.com.

Low-Fat Diet and Small Meals

Follow a low-fat diet and avoid fatty foods, states Dr.Sears.com. Avoid eating large meals before bedtime. Foods high in fat as well as large servings take longer to digest and keep your stomach active. A rumbling, gassy stomach may keep you awake longer and increase insomnia. Avoid eating spicy or hot foods because they increase heartburn, especially when lying down. The discomfort of heartburn will keep you from sleeping. Eat a light meal at least two hours before it's time to sleep. Though a large meal will make you fall asleep faster, you may continue to wake up throughout the night, and the quality of sleep decreases.

Herbal Teas

Several herbal teas may encourage sleep. Chamomile and valerian root both create a mild sedative tea. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, sleep is the most common use for chamomile in the United States. Pour hot water over 2 to 4 grams of dried chamomile leaves to create 1 cup of tea. Allow the chamomile to steep for about 10 minutes before removing leaves and drinking the tea. Chamomile tea also aids in digestion and works as a muscle relaxer, which promotes rest. Valerian root, lemon balm and passion flower create an herbal tea that promotes sleep. Always check with your medical doctor before drinking herbal teas on a regular basis to fight insomnia. Some herbs and dietary supplements affect medications, health conditions and pregnancy.

Photo Credits:

  • Holzhauser Photography/Goodshoot/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.