Optimiser le Sommeil grâce à une Alimentation Anti-Insomnie

Sleep-Enhancing Nutrition: A Guide to Anti-Insomnia Eating

When insomnia persists, it can be a real struggle! However, breaking free from the cycle and reclaiming peaceful nights is entirely possible.

We've dedicated an entire article to the subject with 28 strategies for better sleep. While nutrition plays a role, we won't delve as deeply into details as in this post.

If you struggle with restless nights, be aware that your eating habits can either help you sleep better or worsen the situation.

Thus, it's crucial to differentiate between insomnia-promoting foods and those conducive to a good night's sleep.

Let's dive in!

young woman sleeping

1. The Connection Between Diet and Sleep

Despite being underestimated by the medical community, the links between sleep and diet are robust, as numerous studies have highlighted.

From meal timing to specific nutrients or drinks in excess or deficiency, the way we eat can exert a significant influence on sleep, for better or worse.

If you're grappling with insomnia, it's essential to scrutinize your dietary habits and make necessary adjustments.

Establishing new, healthy eating habits becomes an integral part of basic lifestyle changes to regain restful sleep.

Wall clock

2. Biological clock and circadian rhythm

Our biological clock dictates our waking and sleeping phases. Daylight regulates this clock by triggering the production of melatonin—the sleep hormone—in the evening as light decreases.

For this mechanism to work, favorable conditions must be met: the presence of nutrients necessary for melatonin production, a drop in body temperature, a decrease in wakefulness and stress hormones, and no screen exposure before bedtime.

As you've gathered, our diet can also play a synchronizing or desynchronizing role in our biological clock!

woman cooking

3. The ideal dinner time

It's all about balance!

Avoid eating too early to ensure the brain is nourished for the active sleep hours.

Similarly, don't eat too late, as digestion can hinder falling asleep by increasing body temperature, detrimental to sleep.

Plan your dinner around two hours before bedtime.

4. Unhealthy Habits to Ditch

placemat with a plate

4.1. Leftover Dinner from the Fridge

For dinner, ideally, prepare a freshly cooked meal with carefully considered ingredients!

A light salad before bed?

Not the best choice!

Eating too lightly can lead to nighttime cravings, while indulging in a heavy raclette can severely disrupt digestion and, consequently, sleep.

Strike a balance, favoring carbohydrates.

This may seem counterintuitive, but it's all about quantity.

Opt for pasta, potatoes, rice, couscous, or bread, as these foods facilitate serotonin production, crucial for melatonin, the famous sleep hormone.

Lack of fat and sugar could keep you awake, as the body needs them, drawing from reserves instead of dozing off!

clock surrounded by vegetables

4.2. Lack of Fixed Meal Times

Ideally, all meals should be eaten at the same times every day.

If your schedule allows, try to have dinner at the same time each evening.

Like exposure to light during the day, meal times regulate your internal clock.

young woman eating popcorn

4.3. Say No to Snacking

Snacking between meals disrupts appetite and, by extension, your biological clock and sleep.

It's essential to feel hungry before meals, a sign that it's time to eat.

This way, you regulate the production of the appetite hormone 'ghrelin' and the satiety hormone 'leptin.'

Avoid nighttime snacking at all costs.

Scientists have confirmed the importance of a 12-hour nighttime fast (no food between dinner and the next morning's breakfast) for quality sleep and the prevention of numerous diseases.

5. Foods that Promote Sleep

penne pasta dish with tomato sauce

5.1. Protein and Carbohydrates at the Right Time

Scientists have revealed a competition between tyrosine (a precursor to dopamine) and tryptophan (an amino acid precursor to melatonin, promoting sleep) as they pass through the brain.

Meal composition determines which takes priority.

The logic is to consume:

Protein at breakfast and lunch to facilitate tyrosine entry into the brain and dopamine synthesis, promoting alertness.

This can be animal (meat, eggs, dairy) or plant-based (almonds, grains).

Carbohydrates with little or no protein at dinner to optimize tryptophan passage and its transformation into serotonin, then melatonin, in the evening.

Opt for slow carbs like whole grains or legumes.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, meaning our bodies can't produce it. It must be supplied through food.

While eating foods rich in tryptophan is essential, it might not always suffice.

In case of insomnia, tryptophan supplements can be considered under your doctor's guidance.

jar of food supplements

5.2. Magnesium, the Essential Anti-Stress Mineral

Magnesium regulates serotonin production and storage, among other roles.

Ensuring adequate magnesium intake is crucial, especially given its scarcity in modern diets. In cases of prolonged and intense stress, the body depletes magnesium reserves, leading to a vicious cycle.

Magnesium deficiency is associated with increased stress sensitivity, which, in turn, can disrupt sleep.

Include magnesium-rich foods in your diet, such as seaweed, various nuts and seeds, cocoa, chocolate, green vegetables, legumes, whole grains, shellfish, and crustaceans, as well as certain mineral waters.

salmon and asparagus dish coming out of the oven

5.3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Essential for Sleep

Omega-3s are crucial for overall health, particularly due to their relationship with serotonin.

These fatty acids limit inflammation that could divert the use of tryptophan and hinder serotonin production.

It's imperative to meet your omega-3 needs for peaceful nights. In the 21st century, our diets are deficient in omega-3s and excessively rich in omega-6.

Limit sunflower or peanut oil and saturated or trans fats, favoring hemp, flaxseed, walnut, and rapeseed oils, as well as fatty fish like salmon.

garden patch with spinach

5.4. Iron for Deep Sleep

Insomnia issues often involve iron deficiency, especially for those experiencing restless leg syndrome.

Anemia manifests as fatigue, mood disturbances, and an elevated heart rate. Incorporate iron-rich foods into your diet, such as black pudding and liver for meat-eaters, or lentils, cocoa, white beans, pistachios, dried apricots, cashews, almonds, oats, hazelnuts, dandelion greens, and peas for others.

Consult your doctor for a blood test!

dish with a grapefruit

5.5. Don't Forget the Vitamins

Like magnesium and iron, certain vitamins indirectly aid in falling asleep.

This includes B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, and B12) and vitamin C, involved in dopamine, serotonin, or melatonin production.

To ensure sufficient vitamin intake, incorporate brewer's yeast and wheat germ rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin C-rich powders like acerola, camu camu, maqui, etc.

For vitamin B12, found only in animal products, vegans need to be vigilant and consider supplements.

cup and teapot of herbal tea

5.6. Warm Drinks Before Bed

Non-stimulating warm drinks can be consumed before bedtime—milk, herbal tea, warm water with lemon and honey, etc.

Incorporated into a routine, these drinks become part of your relaxation ritual, perceived as such by the brain.

Drinking warm water helps cool body temperature, preparing the body for rest.

However, manage the time you consume your herbal tea and the amount to avoid nightly bathroom trips.

6. Foods to Absolutely Avoid

For those sensitive to insomnia, be extra diligent to steer clear of sleep-disrupting foods and beverages, especially in large quantities or close to dinner time.

Otherwise, be prepared for delayed sleep and reduced deep sleep!

cup of coffee on a table

6.1. Caffeine

Found in coffee, tea, some sodas, yerba mate, guarana, and even certain chocolates, caffeine is not only a stimulant but also has the ability to block melatonin production for up to 6 hours after ingestion.

Sensitivity to caffeine varies, but on average, a dose exceeding 100 mg during the day is sufficient to disrupt the sleep cycle.

Unless you're determined to finish a project or dance the night away, abstain!

three cocktails placed on a table

6.2. Alcohol

Consuming alcohol in significant quantities, especially outside of dinner, poses a problem for sleep.

Initially, alcohol may seem to aid falling asleep as it relaxes muscle tone.

However, this relief is short-lived.

Between dehydration, respiratory issues, and micro-awakenings (also known as rebound insomnia) it causes, you're in for a rough night!

fried nuget dish

6.3 Too much fat

You guessed it—fast food and junk food, in general, are detrimental to sleep due to their excessive content of bad fats (saturated and trans fats, omega-6 excess), high glycemic index carbohydrates (e.g., foods rich in refined flours and white sugar), and additives (preservatives, colorings...).

This so-called 'poor' diet is devoid of essential micronutrients for quality sleep.

Quite the opposite occurs—fast food and junk food promote an inflammatory environment and oxidative stress, hindering melatonin synthesis.

Digestion takes longer and is disrupted.

Even during winter and festivities, save cured meats, tartiflette, fondue, and other gratins for lunch if you can't do without them.

raw red meat steaks

6.4. Red meat

Goodbye steaks!

Foods rich in animal proteins are known to boost adrenaline and dopamine production, the wakefulness hormones.

To enjoy a good night's sleep, avoid beef, game, and deli meats.

crate full of road peppers

6.5. Overly Spicy Dishes

Even if you have a penchant for intensely spicy curries, you'll have to skip them to ensure a good night's sleep. It's not about deprivation; keep these dishes for lunch.

Spicy dishes contain capsaicin, which can lengthen digestion time and disrupt body temperature.

As mentioned earlier, elevated body temperature is not conducive to falling asleep.

chocolate tiles

6.6. Chocolate and mint

Chocolate and mint are among the foods that cause acid reflux and are therefore discouraged in case of digestion issues, particularly for those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

plate of roasted vegetables

7. The special insomnia diet

Construct your anti-insomnia diet by adhering to these golden rules to prevent serotonin deficiency and, consequently, promote falling asleep.

  • Prioritize foods rich in tryptophan.
  • For evening meals, opt for high-glycemic-index carbohydrates.
  • Avoid heavy and fatty dinners.
  • No coffee or alcohol in the evening (except for special occasions).
  • Load up on Omega-3s.

Here are a few ideas of food you can bring into your supper menu rotation : 

  • Nuts: almonds and cashews, rich in tryptophan and Omega-3s.
  • Fatty fish: salmon, trout, mackerel, halibut, and sardines are perfect for a sleep-friendly dinner.
  • Fruits: ideal for concluding your evening meal as they possess a medium to high glycemic index, providing the body with a vitamin boost. Bananas, figs, melons, canned or compote fruits, or dates are ideal evening desserts.
  • Legumes: rich in tryptophan, legumes like chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils are an excellent choice for the evening meal.
  • Green Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, and asparagus provide beneficial vitamin B9, aiding in falling asleep.
  • Carbohydrates: slow carbs without saturated fats are perfect for helping you sleep. Pasta, whole rice, bread, semolina, rice, gnocchi, tapioca, or potatoes in various forms play a crucial role in better sleep.
  • Dairy: containing derivatives of tryptophan, the amino acid regulating sleep. If tolerated, a bit of milk in the evening with a spoonful of honey could become your relaxing beverage.
  • Eggs: easy to prepare, boiled, poached, or as an omelet, eggs are rich in vitamin B12 and tryptophan, perfect for promoting sleep.
  • Salad: cabbage and lettuce leaves are rich in calcium and contain beneficial fibers for good sleep. Ask the Egyptians and Romans, who were already aware of this trick for a good night's sleep!
  • Bell Peppers and Other Vegetables: Bell peppers, containing a significant amount of melatonin, come in red, yellow, and green varieties. Consume them cooked if raw doesn't sit well with you!

    In conclusion, a well-adjusted diet can play a crucial role in improving sleep quality.

    By favoring sleep-friendly food choices, avoiding certain stimulants, and adopting good nutritional habits, you pave the way for more restful nights.

    Remember, nutrition is an integral part of a holistic approach to promote restorative sleep.

    Combine these dietary adjustments with other beneficial practices, such as stress management, regular physical exercise, and a calming bedtime routine, to maximize the overall benefits to your well-being.

    Good night and sweet dreams!




















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