- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Stop Insomnia with Nutrition
If you suffer from chronic or frequent insomnia, and have tried dozens if not hundreds of things that haven't worked, you may be ready to learn how to stop insomnia with nutrition.
Insomnia has been an almost constant presence in my life, it even was present in my childhood. For years I received the same standard advice from friends, family and health professionals on how to stop my chronic insomnia, most of which never helped and if it did help it wasn't for long.
It was only until my early thirties that I discovered that insomnia and good nutrition, or lack thereof, can go hand in hand. My chronic insomnia was due, in part, to nutritional deficiencies. Taking good quality supplements such as zinc, magnesium and calcium changed my inability to get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning and helped me to get better rest in away that none of relaxation techiniques I had been taught, following a nightly routine or any other advice that I had been given could be. I still stay up later than some (going to bed at 11 pm is an early night for me, but it's better than getting to bed at 3 am) and if I stop taking supplements I find myself struggling again, but things are better than they used to be.
No doubt if I changed what I eat regularly to something even healthier (I eat an okay diet, but it certainly could be improved) I would do even better.
If you've tried just about everything for your insomnia, except nutrition, then this might be just what you've been looking for too.
Based on my personal experience here is what I would recommend someone with chronic insomnia to try.
Learn What Nutrient Deficiencies Can Contribute to Insomnia
First, learn what vitamins and minerals can contribute to insomnia if you're deficient in them. This includes minerals such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. And vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin D, folic acid, and pantothenic acid (B5). Each one of this nutrients can leave you feeling tired and fatigued because you don't sleep well without them or get hardly any sleep at all if you are deficient in one of them.You could be deficient in just one of these nutrients, or several. Getting these nutrients can help to stop insomnia.
Also, even though copper is essential for our health, too much copper can cause insomnia by making your mind race at night with so many thoughts that it keeps you awake at night.
Do Your Research on Other Nutrition Deficiencies
Look for more clues that you might be deficient in a nutrient.
Don't assume that just because one symptom of a vitamin or mineral is insomnia that it means you are deficient in that nutrient. Check to see if there are any other symptoms of a particular vitamin/mineral deficiency that you might have to help you see if you are maybe deficient in that nutrient. For example, other possible symptoms of vitamin A deficiency are dry hair and night blindness as well as insomnia. If you have all three it might be a clue that you're deficient in that vitamin.
A lot of information on nutritional deficiencies is available on the Internet or your local library. Here is a link to one site I've seen with a chart of nutritional deficiencies and their symptoms.
Take a Good Quality Supplement
Find a good supplement or supplements to take. Not all supplements are equal. Some are of better quality than others. And some just might not have enough of the particular nutrients you need.
I found a good quality multi-vitamin that had minerals as well, but still did not have enough calcium, magnesium, and zinc. So I have another supplement for those as well.
Another reason to research nutrients is to know how much is safe to take and how much more than the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is safe to take to get the results you need. In some cases the RDA is actually the minimum amount needed to prevent serious diseases and it can be safe to take much higher doses...BUT that is not always the case. Do your research and find out if, for example, taking more magnesium, in addition to your multiple-supplement, is right for you.
Eat Healthy Foods for Better Sleep
Don't just pop a vitamin or mineral supplement to help you increase your intake. While it's important to take supplements, it's even more important to eat well, to eat the foods that have these vitamins and minerals in them. For the most part that means eating more vegetables and some fruits, which the average "modern" (American) diet does not have enough of. And B-12 can usually only be had through eating meat or from probiotics (good bacteria, such as those found in yogurt, that lives in our digestive system) that create the B-12 vitamin.
Avoiding foods with refined sugar and caffeine (which can cause the body to use up or eliminate needed nutrition from the body) is essential as well.
Dont Expect Overnight Success
Expect to follow these changes for at least a few weeks before you experience a real difference in your insomnia. Although you may see a difference even sooner. Despite the seemingly long time before changes may occur it is definitely worth it for those who struggle with chronic or frequent insomnia. Especially as it will help your overall health in the long term too.
Tips & Warnings
Consider visiting a nutritionist or naturopath trained in nutrition to help you determine what vitamins and minerals are best for you. (Note, most medical doctors today receive little training in nutrition.)
Although already stated above, do some research. The more informed you are about vitamins and minerals the more you can make better choices that will help you.
If you are pregnant consult with your doctor before taking nutritional or herbal supplements.
If you have health conditions, especially ones that have you on medications, check with your doctor and pharmacist to see if there are any supplements that you should not be taking.
While in most cases it is unlikely, it is possible to get too much of some vitamins and minerals. Take the recommended dose or work with an expert such as a nutritionist to determine the right amount for you.