Can’t sleep? Why your diet might be the reason (and what to eat instead)

A nutritionist explains.

By Contributor • 3 years ago • NUTRITION, HEALTH & FITNESS


Many of us take a good night sleep for granted, especially those who can boast a clear track record of sound sleep! Sleep plays an important role in overall wellbeing and poor sleep can negatively impact quality of life, lead to sugar cravings and low immunity amongst other things.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we aren’t guaranteed a good night’s sleep just because we have put ourselves to bed. What we do during the day impacts on how we sleep and our diet can play a greater role than we think. If you are tired of poor sleep and can only dream about heavenly sleep, try following some of the below tips:

Can’t Sleep? Trying eating these:

Boost your calcium intake for neurotransmitter synthesis

Calcium works hand in hand with tryptophan to manufacture melatonin.

Melatonin is the hormone which sets our sleep cycle and causes us to fall asleep and therefore it only makes sense that increased calcium intake is associated with decreased difficulty falling asleep.

Research has shown calcium levels in the body are highest during our deepest sleep stages and calcium deficiency has been linked to disturbed REM sleep.

Try: Good sources include tahini, dried figs, almonds, yoghurt, cottage cheese and leafy greens.

Can't sleep

Hone in on vitamin C rich foods

A low Vitamin-C intake has been found to be associated with non-restorative sleep, the exact opposite of what we all want!

Try: Snacking on berries and kiwi fruit, adding red capsicum to stir-fry’s, making a cauliflower puree or using lemon juice in salad dressings for extra vitamin C.

Can't sleep

Much on foods rich in Vitamin B3

Similar to Vitamin C, Vitamin B3 has been studies for its positive effects on sleep.

Try: Adding some healthy sources of Vitamin B3 to your plate regularly such as tuna, turkey, pork, mushrooms, green peas, sunflower seeds and avocado.

Can't sleep natural remedies insomnia cures foods to help you sleep

Eat foods rich in glutamine for Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) production

The amino acid glutamine, is required to make GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter which we all want enough of because it is associated with relaxation and low levels of GABA is linked to poor sleep quality.

Try: This means it is important to eat an adequate amount of glutamine rich foods in your diet, such as meat (chicken, beef, pork, lamb), dairy products, parsley and cabbage.

can't sleep

Reduce stimulants

It goes without saying, too much caffeine (including chocolate for those very sensitive to caffeine!) close to bedtime can reduce our ability to make the hormones we need to fall asleep and leave us overly stimulated.

Try: If a warm drink before bed is a ritual try sipping herbal tea such as chamomile for its soothing and relaxing effects.

can't sleep

Don’t fear fats

Low-fat diets have been associated with less non-restorative sleep and daytime sleepiness, not to mention lack of satiety from foods and sugar cravings.

Try: At each meal, make sure to include a source of healthy fats such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds and raw nuts to promote restful sleep.

can't sleep

Words by Zoe Bingley-Pullin

For further information on how you can make healthy eating your lifestyle and not a fad purchase Zoe’s ‘Falling In Love With Food‘ online program and start today!

About Zoe | @zoebingleypullin

Zoe is a popular nutritionist and chef who studied at the infamous Le Cordon Bleu school in London and worked through the south of France. Zoe is the creator of her popular Falling In Love With Food online programs and her self published book Falling In Love With Food. She is the host of the new channel 7 house of wellness and was the host of channel 10’s Good Chef Bad Chef as well as the resident chef on Channel 10’s studio 10.


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Images: iStock



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