Although it's common to have the occasional sleepless night, insomnia is the lack of sleep on a regular basis. While there's plenty of prescription and over-the-counter chemically based sleep meds, do yourself a good turn and try a natural dietary approach first.
Before starting any natural remedies, you may wish to consult your doctor. Chronic insomnia can itself be a symptom of another condition, such as depression, heart disease, sleep apnea, lung disease, hot flashes, or diabetes, so it's important to see a doctor if you are having trouble sleeping.
A few suggestions:
Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods
- Magnesium is a natural sedative. Deficiency of magnesium can result in difficulty sleeping, constipation, muscle tremors or cramps, anxiety, irritability, and pain. It has also been use for people with restless leg syndrome.
- Foods rich in magnesium are legumes and seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, brewer's yeast, and whole grains.
- Caffeine can have a pronounced effect on sleep, causing insomnia and restlessness. In addition to coffee, tea, and soft drinks, look for hidden sources of caffeine such as chocolate, cough and cold medicine, and other over-the-counter medicine.
- Although sugar can give a burst of energy, it's short-lived and can cause uneven blood sugar levels. This can disrupt sleep in the middle of the night as blood sugar levels fall.
- Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin. Carbohydrate snacks such whole grain crackers before bedtime may help to promote sleep. Just be sure to stay away from sweets.