If You Can’t Fall Asleep In Under 20 Minutes, It Could Be A Sign Of These 9 Health Issues

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Some nights it’s easier to fall asleep than others. But for certain people, needing over 20 minutes to fall asleep every night is a given — and sometimes others have to wait hours more. The causes of insomnia can be due to all sorts of physical and medical health conditions, so it’s important to examine all of the factors that may be creating your difficulty falling asleep.

Falling asleep can say a lot more about what’s going on with your body than just how tired you are. “The amount of time it takes to fall asleep is known as ‘sleep latency,'” Conor Heneghan, lead research scientist at Fitbit, tells Bustle. “A normal amount of sleep latency is approximately 15-25 minutes, which is considered the ‘sweet spot’ for your body to drift into light sleep stages. However, sleep latency is impacted by [a variety of] factors.” These factors can be anything from what you’ve eaten that day, or whether you’ve altered your bedtime routine, to a more serious underlying medical condition that’s making it difficult for your body to rest at night.

And while having trouble falling asleep can be caused by a myriad of health issues, falling behind on sleep can cause sleep debt and add to these problems. So if you realize you’re taking more than 20 minutes to fall asleep every night, asking your doctor about this problem may get you some relief.

Here are nine health issues that not being able to fall asleep in 20 minutes could be a sign of, according to experts.

1GERD

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GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, can cause symptoms that aren’t quite apparent until you lie down to try to fall asleep.

“When lying down, it’s easier for stomach acids to flow up your esophagus, causing heartburn,” Terry Cralle, RN, clinical sleep educator and sleep consultant for Saatva, tells Bustle. “Heartburn, in turn, can disrupt falling and staying asleep. That’s why many people with GERD experience an increase in symptoms at nighttime and may have trouble finding a comfortable position for sleeping.” Avoiding GERD trigger foods like spicy food, coffee, and alcohol, in the hours before bed, may provide some relief.

2Anxiety

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Anxiety doesn’t exist solely in the mind. If you’ve been dealing with feelings of stress and nervousness in your daily life, it may be building up and causing it to be difficult for you to fall asleep.

“Those who experience anxiety have a complex relationship with sleep,” Dr. Sujay KansagraMattress Firm’s sleep health expert, tells Bustle. “Anxiety can not only prevent someone from falling asleep but it can also be worsened once a person experiences the effects of sleep deprivation.” Dr. Kansagra recommends talking to your doctor if stress or anxiety may be affecting your ability to fall asleep.

3Asthma

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If falling asleep regularly takes more than 20 minutes for you, and you also experience respiratory symptoms, this could be caused by asthma.

“Asthma symptoms often worsen at night, [including symptoms of] nighttime coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and breathlessness: a condition referred to as ‘nocturnal asthma,'” Cralle says. Check in with your doctor if you realize that these sorts of symptoms tend to come along at night.

4“Social Jetlag”

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Keeping a completely different sleep schedule on weekdays and weekends can make falling asleep more difficult in general.

“Another major factor that may contribute to longer sleep latency is ‘social jetlag,’ brought on by the shift in sleep schedules that many experience on days off compared to workdays,” Heneghan says. This issue with your circadian rhythm can be addressed by keeping a more consistent bedtime and wake up time throughout the week.

5Arthritis

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If you have general aches and pains, and they worsen at night enough to make it difficult for you to fall asleep — you may have undiagnosed arthritis. And arthritis doesn’t only affect older people.

“It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of people with arthritis have difficulty sleeping,” Cralle says. “Pain makes it hard to get comfortable and to fall — and stay — asleep. Since sleep deprivation makes pain worse, it’s critical that arthritis sufferers get enough quality sleep.” So talking with your doctor both about your pain and your sleep problems can be a step in the right direction.

6Menopause

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Like arthritis, menopause is associated with aging but can show up in young peopleas well. Since you may not realize this is possible, you may not be connecting the dots between potential gynecological issues and lack of sleep.

“Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men, according to the National Sleep Foundation, and their sleepless nights have been linked with hormonal changes —especially during menopause, when hormone levels are erratic,” Dr. Kent Smith, founding director of Sleep Dallas, tells Bustle. Making sure you regularly see an OB/GYN, and always tell your doctors about changes to your health, can help you stay on top of these potential issues.

7Restless Leg Syndrome

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Tossing and turning doesn’t have to be something that you ignore. Health issues like restless leg syndrome could be seriously impacting your ability to fall and stay asleep.

“Approximately one in 10 adult Americans suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, according to the National Sleep Foundation,” Dr. Smith says. “This sleep-related movement disorder causes overwhelming and often unpleasant urges to move the legs while at rest, often making it difficult for sufferers to drift off to sleep.” If you find it particularly hard to lie still at night, it may be best to get in touch with a doctor.

8Sleep Apnea

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While sleep apnea is known to cause disruptions during sleep, it can cause difficulties during the process of falling asleep as well. And since sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, you might not connect the dots on this sleep disorder immediately.

“Sleep apnea, a condition in which a person ceases to breathe multiple times per hour when they sleep, can inhibit a person’s ability to fall asleep,” Dr. Smith says. “The brain detects that it is receiving less oxygen during sleep, so, in a life-preserving attempt, it actively prevents the sufferer from falling asleep.” If you have difficulty falling asleep, plus other signs of sleep apnea, then it’s important to see a sleep specialist and seek treatment.

9Vitamin Deficiency

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Sometimes, the root cause of your difficulty falling asleep can be hard to pinpoint but relatively straightforward to treat. One of the examples of this is vitamin deficiency.

“Several common vitamin deficiencies can lead to sleep disturbance,” Arielle Levitan, M.D., co-founder of Vous Vitamin LLC, tells Bustle. “[…] Determining which vitamins to take and in which safe and proper doses is important.” Particular deficiencies like magnesium and iron can cause difficulty falling asleep, Levitan says. To find out if this is a problem, the first step is to speak with your doctor and potentially have them perform blood tests to check for deficiencies.

In order to protect your physical and mental health, it’s important not to normalize your difficulty falling asleep. Taking note of why you may be struggling to fall asleep within 20 minutes or so, and how you feel the next day, may provide you some of the data you need to discuss this issue with your doctor — and find a treatment that works for you.

10 Things Insomnia Can Tell You About Your Health

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Insomnia, or the lack of sleep, may lead to medical and psychiatric conditions. In some cases, it is these medical and mental issues that actually cause sleep problems. But whether insomnia is the cause or the effect, difficulty sleeping is definitely a sign that something is wrong with your health.

The National Sleep Foundation says that it’s always a good idea to have a general check-up with a health care provider if you have trouble getting regular sleep. It is important to determine if you have underlying health issues or sleep disorders because insomnia can affect the quality of your life.

1.    YOUR THYROID IS OVERACTIVE

You have a condition called hyperthyroidism if you have an overactive thyroid. This occurs when there’s more production of a hormone called thyroxine in the thyroid gland.

When you have hyperthyroidism, you could experience symptoms that seem to mimic other health conditions. Thus, it’s not always easy for doctors to catch the problem. Aside from insomnia, you may also experience the following symptoms of hyperthyroidism:

  • Change in appetite
  • Frequent bowel movement or diarrhea
  • Heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, or irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Light menstruation and missed periods – for women
  • Fertility issues
  • Unusual sweating
  • Vision changes
  • Frequent dizziness
  • Hives and itching
  • Weight loss
  • Oversensitivity to heat
  • Swelling of the neck base

If your weight loss is sudden and you have two or more of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor for an assessment. Don’t forget to describe the changes you’ve noticed in your body to the doctor so that you can get the right diagnosis.

2.    YOU’RE HAVING ANXIETY ISSUES

What may be keeping you up at night are your concerns in life. Have you been going through something lately that’s causing a great deal of anxiety? Experts say that your mind can’t rest if you’re always anxious. If your mind cannot rest then you’re likely to sleep lightly and develop insomnia.

But the problem is that your sleeping brain cannot distinguish what’s happening compared to your waking brain. The neurotransmitters that send the signals in your brain won’t be able to cope with the threats that anxiety causes in your sleep. So, even if you think you’re making it through day by day with little or light sleep, it will eventually take its toll.

You have to see a therapist as soon as possible in order to sort out your anxiety issues. You have to find positive coping mechanisms that help calm your mind when you’re going to bed. For some people, these coping tools may include meditation, light exercises, and other soothing activities.

3.    YOU’RE PHYSICALLY STRESSED OUT

Just like mental stress or anxiety, physical stress may also lead to light sleeping. This is because your body’s temperature, heart rate, and adrenaline are higher, which affects your ability to engage in deep sleep, also known as REM sleep. REM sleep takes 25 percent of your sleep cycle. Its main functions are:

  • To store your brain’s long-term memories
  • To aid in your learning
  • To stabilize, enhance, and balance your mood

You lose the benefits of having deep sleep if your body can’t complete the REM phase of your sleep cycle. So, you wake up feeling more groggy and tired because your body didn’t actually get a good rest.

Thus, creating a relaxing routine for bedtime may help regulate your sleep cycle. You must also avoid doing heavy physical workouts two hours before you go to bed.

4.    YOU’RE EXPERIENCING ACID REFLUX

You won’t get a good night’s sleep no matter what you do if you’re suffering from acid reflux or heartburn. Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract can influence the quality of sleep because the acid contents from the stomach may rise back when you’re lying down the bed, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.

You’re standing or sitting during the daytime so acid reflux won’t have much impact. When you’re reclining, however, the stomach acid can’t be pushed down to your stomach so you end up having interrupted sleep with a burning sensation in your chest and a sour taste in your throat. It’s an unpleasant feeling, to say the least.

There are over-the-counter medications to take care of this problem. You should see a doctor right away for the proper diagnosis or treatment. Apparently, 60 percent of patients with gastro issues suffer from sleep problems.

5.    YOU’RE HAVING HUNGER PANGS

Your bouts of insomnia might be related to your eating habits. If you have an irregular dinner schedule and you suddenly ate earlier, say between 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., then by 2 a.m. your brain triggers your body to demand fuel or food.

You get these hunger pangs because of a hormonal imbalance. This, once again, highlights the importance of having a routine so that you can be assured of a good rest. Try as much as possible not to mess with your dinner times so that it won’t also ruin your sleep cycle.

6.    YOU’RE DRINKING TOO MUCH COFFEE THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Do you know that coffee takes an average of eight to 10 hours to be completely eliminated in the body? If you drink a cup or two early in the day, at least 75 percent of it will be gone by the time you go home for dinner.

But if you drink coffee in the afternoon or less than six hours before you go to bed, then you may have problems getting decent sleep at night. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it can impede your sleep routine.

Ironically, if you’re trying to cut down on the coffee drinking, you might also experience insomnia since your body will go through withdrawal as an automatic response. You may also experience increased heart rate, headaches, and jitters that could impact your sleeping patterns.

But be patient as you get through the withdrawal stage. It’s much more positive to restore your sleep quality than continue to suffer from the effects of insomnia.

7.    YOU’VE GOT BAD SKIN, ESPECIALLY UNDER THE EYES

When you suffer from insomnia, your eyes turn puffy and the skin around it appears darker. This happens because sleep deprivation triggers your body to work double time to bring oxygen to your vital organs to prevent a breakdown, according to the experts via Telegraph.

But in doing so, your body doesn’t draw enough oxygen to the skin. So, in due time, the skin around your eyes grows darker because of the deoxygenated blood that flows through it. The dark circles also become more obvious because the skin around the eyes is thin.

Ever wonder why they call it beauty sleep? It’s because sleep has a positive effect on the health of the skin. Proper sleep allows:

  • Development of healthier hormones
  • Stimulation of the cells
  • Repair of body tissues
  • Formation of more collagen that will reduce skin aging

8.    YOU’RE LESS SHARP AND LACK FOCUS

Insomnia can lead to the deterioration of your cognitive function. You lose the ability to concentrate on a task. You also experience slow mental processing that could impact your ability to make decisions or solve problems.

The lack of sleep will dumb you down and affect your efficiency at work. You’ll be less sharp, less focused, and less alert. You won’t be able to grasp instructions or reason and state your case well because your cognition is impaired.

If you work at a high-risk job, where accuracy, vigilance, and safety are important, being an insomniac can definitely matter to your performance. A faulty brain function puts you and the people around you at risk. Thus, you need to see a doctor before you create a major blunder or accident that may hurt someone.

Long-term insomnia that’s not addressed or treated can lead to memory loss. This is because the lack of sleep doesn’t give your brain the chance to recover, recoup, and organize itself. There have been studies showing the improvement of memory recall following a night of good sleep. So, don’t delay finding a positive and doable solution to this problem.

9.    YOU’RE MORE PRONE TO COLDS, COUGH, AND FEVER

Do you always catch a cold or cough? Are you always the first one holed up in the bedroom during flu season? If you’re an insomniac, you’ll often find yourself with colds, cough, and fever because your body’s defenses against virus and bacteria are low.

A prolonged state of sleep deprivation is a lot similar to your body experiencing high levels of stress. As a result, your body’s immunities lower so you’re more vulnerable to getting sick.

Good sleep helps your body produce proteins called cytokines that help with infection and inflammation. When you’re not sleeping well, however, the level of this protein in your body drops so your antibodies weaken.

10.  YOUR BEDTIME ROUTINE AND SLEEPING CONDITIONS NEED TO BE IMPROVED

Your lifestyle plays a vital role in how you stay healthy. Perhaps the reason you’re having insomnia is that you don’t slow down from your activities even when you’re in bed. You also don’t make it a point to create a healthy environment for sleeping.

insomnia

Do you still use gadgets minutes before you shut your eyes? Studies have proven that this habit can disrupt your sleep cycle. Is your bedroom too messy or overly warm? The physical conditions around you can impact the quality of your sleep.

Make an effort to have a healthy routine and sleep conditions and see how much difference it will make in your sleep patterns. Don’t get used to the disorder and dysfunction; instead, listen to the signs your body is telling you.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THINGS INSOMNIA CAN TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR HEALTH

People spend nearly more than a fourth of their lives in bed but most don’t really make an effort to make their sleep quality count. If you make positive changes to how you sleep, you should see improvements right away if you’re suffering from acute insomnia.

But if your insomnia still lingers for weeks and months, you need to get a proper medical diagnosis for the disorder that’s really ailing you. There are individuals who don’t actually know that they’re not getting good sleep or suffering from insomnia. For this reason, a visit to the doctor or a specialist will be a big help.

Simple Practices To Help You Sleep Better

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By Arash Emamzadeh

People with breathing difficulties, chronic pain, urinary and gastrointestinal problems, and high blood pressure, have higher levels of sleeplessness, than those without these conditions.2

Insomnia itself may also increase the risk of certain physical but also mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression.

Therefore, it is a good idea to consult the appropriate health professionals to address potential causes and complications of your sleeplessness, especially if you have chronic insomnia.

Today’s article, however, is about things you can do yourself to help improve your sleep.

I begin with perhaps the most obvious one, good sleep habits.

Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to behaviors and habits that promote good sleep. These can include:

  1. Exercising regularly (not close to sleep time).
  2. Following a healthy diet and not consuming large meals in the evening.
  3. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
  4. Establishing a soothing routine prior to sleep (e.g., reading a spiritualbook).
  5. Keeping the environment conducive to sleep (e.g, keeping the lights low).
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Source: StockSnap/Pixabay

Stimulus control

Stimulus control includes techniques intended to re-associate bed with sleep:

  1. Going to bed only when sleepy.
  2. Leaving the bedroom if unable to fall sleep in 20-30 minutes.
  3. Not napping during the day.
  4. Waking up the same time each day no matter what.
  5. Not studying, working, watching TV, or using the computer, while in bed.

Relaxation

Relaxation helps reduce physiological arousal. Try these shortly before going to bed:

  1. Stretching or yoga.
  2. Visualization (e.g, visualize sleeping peacefully and waking up refreshed).
  3. Meditation (do so only if you already have some experience with meditation).
  4. Breathing exercises (e.g., abdominal breathing).
  5. Progressive muscle relaxation.
terimakasih0/Pixabay
Source: terimakasih0/Pixabay

If these methods do not give you all the help you need, you may also consider these three practices: Challenging your thoughts, paradoxical intention, and sleep restriction.

Sleep restriction

Sleep restriction is a practice that may help you sleep better, by initially limiting the time you spend in bed. To practice sleep restriction, you need to limit the hours in bed to the hours you have actually spent sleeping (though it is recommended to not go below five hours).

For example, if you slept only six hours last night (even if you were in bed for, say, ten hours), then remain in bed for only six hours tonight.

As your sleep improves and you spend more time actually sleeping, then you can increase your hours in bed.

Challenging your thoughts

Certain beliefs can worsen insomnia. For instance, some people assume that the consequences of not getting enough sleep is much more severe than it really is. Such beliefs result in unnecessary anxiety, making it even more difficult to fall asleep.

Not all anxious thoughts are sleep related. They may also be related to health issues, finances, relationship difficulties, etc. One thing that can help is keeping a journal and writing down the anxiety-provoking thoughts and concerns that arise during the night or right before sleep.

After a good night’s rest, it will be easier to return to these thoughts and concerns, to rationally assess them, or if need be, to do something about them (e.g., make a medical appointment, call the bank, etc).

Paradoxical intention

This is one of my favorite mental techniques because it is so simple and yet can be quite effective.

The way it works is that instead of anxiously trying to force yourself to sleep (“I can get at least six hours…five hours…if I sleep now I can get at least four hours”), you try to stay awake as long as you can.

In other words, paradoxical intention does not oppose the anxious intention (of trying to force yourself to sleep), but guides it in the opposite direction (toward forcing yourself to stay awake)

If you are not convinced that this helps, recall the times that your favorite program was on, or when you had a lot of work to do, but sleep overpowered you. You were forcing yourself to stay awake, but eventually allowed sleep to happen.

So next time you can not sleep—and neither can stop trying to force yourself to sleep—simply intend to stay awake. But mean it. You can not fake it or the body will know. Then, if or when you really sense sleep coming over, you can allow yourself to fall asleep.

***

PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay
Source: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

I hope you found at least some of these suggestions and reminders helpful.

As I once told a friend, good sleep is like a famous writer, a well-known dream weaver, one also happens to be reclusive and shy. Be ready to receive this wonderful guest, but at the same time, keep busy with your own work in the meantime.

Who knows, maybe you’ll get a visit tonight.

How Pulling An All-Nighter Affects Your Brain

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By Cory Stieg

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MICHAEL BECKERT.

When your body says, “sleep,” but your anxietysays, “not until you finish this project,” sometimes your mind gets the best of you. The next thing you know, it’s morning, and you’ve pulled an all-nighter. Whether you’re a student, a busy parent, a burnt-out employee, or some combination of all of those things, chances are you’ve been in this situation.
The morning after an all-nighter, you feel like a shell of yourself: it’s harder to concentrate, make decisions, respond to impulses, and think creatively when you’re sleep deprived. From a scientific standpoint, this all makes sense, because your body needs sleep to function, even down to a cellular level.
A 2015 study in the journal PLOS One showed that a night of missed sleep can lead to structural changes in the brain. Another 2017 study out of the University of California Los Angeles found that sleep deprivation disrupts brain cells’ ability to communicate, which is why you experience so many “mental lapses” after a sleepless night. The hormone cortisol also follows a specific pattern overnight, but without sleep, cortisol can’t drop, and your body will feel confused the next day. And finally, we also know based on animal studies that, over time, sleep deprivation can increase buildup of a protein that’s associated with Alzheimer’s disease. So, sleep is a pretty big deal.
A good night’s sleep is a reset process for the brain and body the next day, says Alexis Halpern, MD, emergency medicine physician at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “Sleep allows the body’s cells to reenergize, and the brain to clear waste and toxins from the day, and make space for memories and learning,” she says. Most of the time, pulling an all-nighter is not worth it, because you’ll feel both miserable and moody the next day. But sometimes, an all-nighter really is necessary.
As an emergency medicine doctor, Dr. Halpern has experience staying up all night to work a night shift in the ER. She believes you can never really “catch up” on sleep, but there are a few things she does it make her necessary all-nighters less miserable. The day before an overnight, Dr. Halpern will sleep as late as possible into the afternoon, then try to do some light exercise to get her body energized. “I eat light meals, and I only drink coffee right before I go in,” she says. “I definitely avoid a heavy dinner and make sure to bring a lot of snacks — preferably healthy, because a sugar rush overnight leads to a terrible crash at a time the body wants to be asleep.” Afterwards, she’ll come home and sleep until the afternoon, then try to go to bed at a normal time.
While the health effects of shift work are complex, Dr. Halpern says it can take a few days to get back on track with a sleep schedule like hers. Even so, she doesn’t recommend pulling an all-nighter if you have the choice. No matter how stressed you are, it’s important to remember that sleep is more than just a break from your work, it’s a complex and necessary biological process. Bottom line: You’re probably better off doing a little less work and getting a little more sleep, she says.

Insomnia Series: The Science Behind What You Should Eat for a Good Night’s Sleep

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By Sophie Medlin

Recently, researchers have been learning more about how poor sleep influences our dietary choices, as well as how diet influences sleep quality. Not sleeping for long enough or poor quality sleep are associated with increased food intake, a less healthy diet, and weight gainLack of sleep also leads to increased snacking and overeating. And it causes us to want to eat foods high in fat and carbohydrates — with increased chemical rewards to the brain when we do eat these foods.

Essentially, poor sleep drives your body to find high energy foods to keep you awake which makes fighting the cravings for unhealthy foods very difficult to resist. But, on the other hand, when we have slept well our appetite hormones are at a normal level. We don’t crave unhealthy food so much — and we can make better choices about what to eat.

See also: Learning Language in Deep Sleep Isn’t Just Science Fiction Anymore

The Science of Sleep

All cultures around the world have traditions about which foods promote sleep. Foods such as milk, chamomile, kiwi fruit, and tart cherries, have all been said to work wonders for a good night’s sleep. Given how much the food we eat affects us on a day-to-day basis, it is not surprising that our diet plays such a big role in our quality of sleep. What we eat also has a big impact on our organ function, immune system, hormone production, and brain function.

A really important hormone that controls our sleep patterns is melatonin. Melatonin is produced in the brain and the amount of melatonin you produce, and how efficiently our brain uses it is affected by our diet. One of the biggest influence on our melatonin levels appears to be our intake of a type of proteincalled tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid — the building blocks of proteins. Essential amino acids are a group which our bodies cannot make; it can only be sourced through diet.

sleeping cat
Eating and drinking for better sleep is about more than just avoiding caffeine.

Other nutrients that appear to be helpful for sleep include B vitamins and magnesium. This is because they help tryptophan to be more available in the body. If your diet is lacking tryptophan, B vitamins, or magnesium, it is very likely that your melatonin production and secretion will be affected and your sleep quality will be poorer.

Eat to Sleep

It stands to reason then that following overly restrictive diets or diets that put you at risk of nutrient deficiencies can really affect your sleep. But by increasing your intakes of foods rich in specific nutrients, it may well help to promote better sleep quality and duration.

Dairy foods, for example, can be great at helping you sleep. Not only is dairy an excellent source of tryptophan, but it also contains magnesium and B vitamins which help to promote the activity and availability of tryptophan. Nuts, like dairy, also contain all the nutrients known to promote increased melatonin production and support its release.

salmon

Fish is a great source of tryptophan and B vitamins. Fish with bones, such as sardines, will also provide magnesium. Including fish in your diet regularly may help to promote healthy melatonin production when you need it. Pulses, beans, and lentils also contain high amounts of tryptophan and B vitamins. Adding some tofu or paneer to a vegetable stew or curry can also help to increase your likelihood of having a great night’s sleep. You could also add in some soya — which is another good source of tryptophan — to optimize your sleep potential.

See also: Doctors Identified Risk Factors for a Potentially Violent Sleep Disorder

And if you’re still struggling to sleep, it might be that you’d benefit from some meat. Meat of all kinds contains all the essential ingredients for a good night’s sleep. So if you can’t nod off at night, maybe think about adding some lean meat to your diet.

If you find yourself hungry before bed, for the ideal bed time snack, try a glass of semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, a small banana or a few nuts — all of which can really help to improve your sleep and your willpower the next day. It’s also worth pointing out that it takes around an hour for the tryptophan in foods to reach the brain, so don’t wait until just before bedtime to have your snack. And it’s also advisable to have a balanced diet that includes plenty of foods that are high in tryptophan throughout the day to optimize your chances of a good night’s sleep.