What To Eat To Help Fight Insomnia, According To a Doctor

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Playing A Doctor Answers: What Can I Eat To Help Fight Insomnia?
A Doctor Answers: What Can I Eat To Help Fight Insomnia? Aired April 25, 2019

You've probably heard of melatonin — but here's a quick refresher from our friend, Dr. Ian Smith, just in case you need one.

"Melatonin is a hormone [that] puts your body into a peaceful restfulness, which prepares you for sleep," Dr. Ian says. "When it's light outside, your melatonin levels dip. You're awake and feeling great."

When it's dark outside, Dr. Ian continues, the brain secretes melatonin, because it knows it's time to go to sleep.

Most of us secrete enough melatonin, he explains, but as you age, you may not naturally produce enough.

Another possibility could be that "from a physiological standpoint, the melatonin is not doing its trick," according to the doc.

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So if you're having trouble falling asleep at night, a shortage of melatonin could be the cause.

One audience member, named Magdala, asked Dr. Ian for his advice on foods that could help combat insomnia.

Not only did he answer, but he took it one step further — by providing a delicious recipe that includes a number of beneficial ingredients.

According to Dr. Ian, studies have shown that certain amino acids and nutrients can work together to help your body produce melatonin and promote sleep.

Dr. Ian lists four elements that are important for your melatonin: calcium, magnesium, protein and vitamin B6.

"All these things are in foods that help either make melatonin, or they make serotonin — which is a neurotransmitter that comes before the melatonin," he says.

Some foods, such as almonds and walnuts, naturally contain melatonin — so these nuts make a nice evening snack, says Dr. Ian.

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"I always believe before going to sleep, 200 calories or less should be your snack," Dr. Ian says.

The doc shares one of his favorite recipes for a better night's sleep: A yogurt parfait!

The ingredients? Plain, low-fat Greek yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, bananas and a little bit of granola.

The low-fat yogurt is a good source of protein and calcium, berries contain antioxidants and bananas have magnesium, Dr. Ian explains.

Plus, he says a crunchy snack like granola can help suppress your appetite. Who knew?!

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