Eating Your Way to a Better Night's Sleep

Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is a problem that afflicts approximately half of the adult population in the United States, and to combat this problem many people have turned to sleeping aids and medications, in addition to a variety of technological innovations like apps and white noise machines. One area that may be worth exploring if you are among those who can’t see to get a good night’s sleep is the possibility that your diet is lacking in some of the essential nutritional elements that contribute to our ability to relax and sleep deeply. There have been several studies conducted recently that support this idea, and there are three top nutrients that all recommend as a possible solution for common sleep problems.


Magnesium is a nutrient that is readily available in many popular foods, including dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale. It is also found in beans and lentils, sesame seeds and Brazil nuts as well as some kinds of fish. People who are deficient in magnesium often have a difficult time falling sleep, and insomnia is one of the primary diagnostic symptoms of a magnesium deficiency. A lack of magnesium can play a part in many mental health issues, most notably depression.  It can also cause a loss of appetite, fatigue and general weakness of the muscles. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to hypertension and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and migraine headaches.


A potassium deficiency is often linked to having a hard time staying asleep. People who are low in potassium may fall asleep easily, but then they awaken in the middle of the night and are unable to get back to sleep. Potassium is available in all red meats and chicken, some fish, and soy products. Bananas, citrus fruit, avocados, beans, leafy greens and baked potatoes are all good sources of potassium, as are milk, yogurt and nuts. A low potassium level can also cause your muscles to grow weak and can increase your blood pressure.

Vitamin D

One of the first things that a physician will test for if you report feeling tired during the day is a deficiency in your level of Vitamin D. Though most people get the necessary amount of Vitamin D simply by being out in the sunshine, some people do not get adequate exposure due to where they live, their work schedule, or covering up in order to protect the skin against cancer. There are many foods that have been fortified with Vitamin D to help people get enough of this essential nutrient, with milk being the most commonly consumed, and several types of fish have high levels of Vitamin D, but if you are found to be deficient, the best way to increase your levels is to take a nutritional supplement or vitamin pill.

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