Sleep Easier - Can Diet and Lifestyle Affect Sleep Patterns?

Article by Dr. Chad Larson, narrated by Charles Griffin

Video Transcription:

Recently I noticed that my sleep has not been as restful as it usually is, and when my sleep is off, I feel the effects all day long. I'm not quite at the point where I have insomnia, but I want to share some information for those of you who are experiencing some sleep issues.

Insomnia is a prolonged inability to get adequate sleep, whether as a result of waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble getting back to sleep (sleep-maintenance insomnia), or having a hard time falling asleep in the first place (sleep-onset insomnia). Insomnia can be temporary, occasional, or chronic.

Dietary Changes That May Be Helpful


Prior to my recent sleep issues, I had been ramping up my consumption of tea. I don't drink coffee, but I noticed I was drinking no less than about 48 ounces of strong black tea during the day … that's about 300 mg of caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant. The effects of caffeine can last up to 20 hours, so some people will have disturbed sleep patterns even when their last cup of coffee (or tea!) was in the morning. In addition to regular coffee and black tea, green tea, cocoa, chocolate, some soft drinks, and many over-the-counter pharmaceuticals also contain caffeine.

Food Allergies

Food allergies may also contribute to insomnia. For example, in a trial involving eight infants, chronic insomnia was traced to an allergy to cow's milk. Avoidance of milk resulted in a normalization of sleep patterns.

Lifestyle Changes That May Be Helpful

  • Bath before bed: A naturopathic therapy for insomnia is taking a 15 to 20 minute hot Epsom-salts bath before bedtime. One or two cups of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in a hot bath are thought to act as a muscle relaxant.

  • Quit Smoking: Smokers are more likely to have insomnia than nonsmokers. As with many other health conditions, it is important for people with insomnia to quit smoking.

  • Meditation: To quiet down your monkey mind, you also may want to check out a meditation app, like Headspace (with whom I have no affiliation).

Are there supplements that can help? Absolutely. Next week we'll discuss a nutritional supplement that I found particularly helpful, and you may too. Stay tuned!

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