Yogurt as a Bedtime Snack for Insomnia

Yogurt with raspberries and granola
A bowl of yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts. (Image: nebari/iStock/Getty Images)

Being unable to fall asleep and stay asleep is commonly referred to as insomnia. Symptoms include waking up during the night, feeling unrested in the morning, fatigue, irritability, depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, headaches and digestive problems. You may effectively treat occasional insomnia at home with dietary and environmental changes, including eating yogurt before bed. Call your doctor if you suffer from chronic insomnia because you may need medication to treat the condition.

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid your body uses to produce serotonin and melatonin, both of which are brain chemicals involved with inducing sleepiness and relaxation. Eating foods that contain tryptophan, such as yogurt, facilitates the process. Milk is also a good source of tryptophan, and while people often consume warm milk as a bedtime snack, yogurt is easier to digest, reports AskDrSears.com, making it a better choice before you go to bed. In addition, people with lactose intolerance who also have insomnia may be able to consume yogurt without experiencing symptoms because many varieties contain less lactose.

Choosing Yogurt

Not all yogurts provide the same sleep benefits, so being choosy is important when eating yogurt as a bedtime snack. Avoid versions that are high in sugar because they interfere with blood sugar levels, causing a spike that may counteract the tryptophan in the yogurt, according to AskDrSears.com. Look for options that are naturally low in sugar or buy plain yogurt and combine it with naturally sweetened foods, such as fruit. In addition, a high-protein meal too close to bedtime may wake your brain up, so look for yogurts that don't contain a huge amount.

Combining Yogurt With Other Foods

The best way to reap the benefits of tryptophan is to combine complex carbohydrates with protein, a nutrient that yogurt contains. When you add carbohydrates to yogurt, it allows your body to clear other amino acids from your blood, allowing tryptophan to reach your brain more quickly and efficiently. Top your yogurt with granola or flaxseed or eat it with a piece of whole-wheat bread, a few whole-grain crackers or a small bowl of oatmeal.

Considerations

Eating a large meal too close to bedtime will likely make you uncomfortable, which makes it difficult to fall asleep. Limit your yogurt intake to one serving, which is typically one-half to one container, depending on its size. Read labels and use measuring utensils to help you eat an appropriate amount. Yogurt contains probiotics, healthy bacteria that support digestive health, so eating it at bedtime can help you sleep and reduce any gastrointestinal symptoms you may be suffering from as a result of insomnia.

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