Getting a good night’s sleep is a satisfying, energizing, and vital part of a healthy life. However, per the National Sleep Foundation, almost six out of ten Americans report having insomnia at least a few nights a week..
Melatonin is a natural hormone made by a gland in the brain that helps regulate the sleep and wake cycles. Researchers in recent studies have found that eating tropical fruits such as pineapples and bananas, and also certain vegetables, can naturally increase melatonin in the body and help to improve sleep and remedy insomnia.
Melatonin levels start rising in the evening and go up to a peak level in the early hours of the morning, perhaps around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m, and then it reduces. Melatonin production also declines with increasing age. This may partially explain why some people can sleep fine for a few hours and then suddenly find themselves wide awake in the night and unable to go back to sleep.
The research study showing how tropical fruits increase melatonin was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Thirty healthy volunteers ate one fruit at a time with a one-week wash-out period between fruits. Significant increases in melatonin were observed after eating pineapple (a 266% increase), banana (180%) and orange (47%). The researchers made important discoveries about fruit consumption for those people with age-related melatonin deficiency symptoms such as sleeplessness and insomnia.
Eating more vegetables can increase melatonin levels in the body as well. Ninety-four Japanese women participated in a recent study. Half of the women ate high amounts of selected vegetables for 65 days, while the other half were told to avoid the same vegetables.
At the end of the study, the average daily intake of melatonin from eating the vegetables was 1,288 nanograms, while the non-vegetable group had an increase of a mere 5.3 nanograms. (For reference, a nanogram is a common measurement in research studies and equals one billionth of a gram, and there are 28 grams in an ounce). Another Japanese study tracked consumption of vegetables such as tomato, pumpkin, spinach, Japanese radish, cabbage, carrot, etc., and discovered there was 16% more melatonin in the women with the highest vegetable intake.
Supplements of synthetic melatonin are made commercially in a lab. Because they often offer several milligrams per supplement, which is far more than the body makes naturally, common side effects of these supplements can include daytime sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, nightmares, anxiety and irritability. Melatonin supplements are only recommended for short-term use and are best used under the guidance of a doctor.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, the brain can be assisted in its melatonin production by taking calcium supplements. William Sears, M.D. writes: “Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods.” It’s important to note that a balanced ratio of calcium and magnesium (in a 2 to 1 ratio) is important to overall health, and that these two minerals should be taken together for best results.
Digestibility and absorption are important factors in selecting the best forms of calcium and magnesium to use. For example, Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs is a natural insomnia remedy that contains highly absorbable forms of these minerals and it’s effective for sleeplessness and insomnia, as well as for heart health, restless leg syndrome, bone strength, menopause insomnia and teenage insomnia. Sleep Minerals also contains vitamin D and zinc and is delivered in a softgel form mixed with natural rice bran oil, making it better assimilated than tablets or capsules and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.
Richard P. of Parkville, Maryland says: “The Sleep Minerals are making quite a difference. I was regularly waking up at around 3:00 a.m. and after a few days of use my sleep improved quite a lot. I wake up once a night to go to the bathroom, but the great thing is, I then fall back asleep and sleep several more hours. This has been a great improvement.”
Fruits, vegetables and absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium are good remedies to increase melatonin in the body and help with better sleep. For more information, visit the Sleep Minerals II page.
Walnuts, almonds, tart cherries, tart cherry juice, nut butters, whole grains, kiwis, pineapples, bananas and oranges. Yogurt and warm milk are also good choices. Teas that help with sleep and relaxation include chamomile, lemon balm and passionflower.
A study showing how fruits increase melatonin appeared in the Journal of Food Chemistry. 30 volunteers ate one fruit at a time. Significant increases in melatonin were observed with pineapple (a 266% increase), banana (180%) and orange (47%).