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Wouldn't it be great to get an elusive good night's sleep without having to rely on any of those pharmaceuticals lining your local drug store? Thankfully, there are a number of melatonin-rich foods to help you catch those "z's" without pills.

Insomnia is a problem that is common in the general population and the majority of patients are unenthusiastic about taking medications in order to fight this disease.  Not only are these medications linked with a number of side effects but the longer you take the medications, the more likely you are to build a tolerance to them so you will have to take more to get the same effect [1]. Foods rich in melatonin are natural sleep aids that can help sleep deprived population find relief for their symptoms. Consider these four categories of foods when you are trying to improve your sleep.  

Number 1:  Citrus Foods Like Pineapple, Oranges, and Bananas. 

These are foods that are easy to find no matter where you are in the world and they have a significant effect on your levels of melatonin, a chemical in your brain that helps you fall asleep.  

A study conducted by a group of researchers in Thailand found that pineapples, oranges, and bananas significantly increased the level of melatonin in your blood by over 200% of what is produced naturally in your brain. 

This is much higher than what you can even find by taking supplements or medications so it is a better option for patients with insomnia. Eating these fruits within 2 hours of your bedtime provided the maximum results for the patients.[2]

Number 2:  Red Wines, White Wines, and Other Alcoholic Beverages 

If you have ever participated in a binge-drink on the weekend, it is no surprise to you that drinking alcohol makes you tired and even "pass out."  The scientific reason for this is the fermentation process of creating alcohol adds melatonin to the beverage.  Investigators have determined that all types of alcohol has some levels of melatonin but some are better than others. 

Red wine has about twice as much melatonin as white wine. These wines are far more effective at tiring out a patient than beers, whiskeys, or spirits. [3]

Wine will have a quicker onset of action compared to citrus fruits because it is digested at a quicker rate but the thing to remember is there are a lot of detrimental side effects from consistent alcohol consumption. Alcohol is something very easy to get dependent on so you will need to monitor your drinking to keep it in check. An adult male is able to process 2 glasses of wine a day until around the age of 50 while a woman is only able to drink 1 glass a day. As a male ages, his ability to process alcohol diminishes so he is restricted to 1 glass a day as well by around 55 years of age. [4]

Number 3:  Foods in a Traditional Mediterranean Diet 

We've all heard that a Mediterranean Diet was a great option if you were looking to lose weight or help prevent a heart attack but did you also know that it is full of melatonin-rich foods that can help with your chronic insomnia? It's true, the foods that normally comprise a Mediterranean Diet are rich in melatonin and have therapeutic effects on your sleep cycle and can be a great chronic insomnia treatment option.

Foods like grapes and tomatoes are loaded with melatonin. Using extra virgin olive oil has similar values of melatonin per milliliter compared to red wine and is much less addictive to provide you with a safer alternative. An added bonus of eating these melatonin-rich foods is not only will you improve your sleeping, but melatonin is also believed to have a role in fighting ageing, cancers, and immunological disorders so you will significantly benefit from the start of this new diet. [5]  

Number 4: Complex Grains Like Corn, Barley, Rice and Grain 

Grains are another great source of metalonin and are readily available as long as the food is not overly processed. Foods that are complex grains are composed of compounds like melatonin so eating them will help aide with any sleep disorder. Corn, ginger, and rice were reported as having the highest levels of melatonin. [6]

Another reason that you should seriously consider complex carbohydrates in your meals is the fact that they have a high glycemic index. It was determined in a scientific investigation that foods with a high glycemic index release more insulin in the blood. This triggers a cascade where serotonin and melatonin are released into the blood and people who consume these foods are able to fall asleep more rapidly than the control group not eating these foods.The study determined that the benefit would be the greatest if you eat foods like rice 4 hours before you intend to fall asleep. This will allow your body enough time to digest the foods to release serotonin and melatonin into your blood and will significantly reduce the time it takes for you to get into a deep sleep. [7]

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