Could Yogurt Treat Occasional Insomnia?

Patient Expert

Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Then you are most likely dealing with occasional  insomnia. Some of the  symptoms of insomnia include waking up during the night, feeling unrested in the morning, irritability, fatigue, as well as headaches, difficulty concentrating and even digestive problems and  depression.

However, treating insomnia with dietary changes, such as eating yogurt before bed, may effectively treat bouts of occasional insomnia. ryptophan is an amino acid the body uses to produce melatonin and serotonin. Both of these are brain chemicals that induce relaxation and sleepiness.  Consuming  foods that contain tryptophan  helps assist this process. Yogurt contains tryptophan, as does milk. However, yogurt is easier to digest, especially for those who may have lactose sensitivity.

Before you go to the store and stock up on yogurt, you should know that not all yogurts will aid with sleep. You must be choosy when selecting yogurt as a bedtime snack to treat occasional insomnia:

  • Avoid yogurts that are high in sugar. They could cause a spike in your blood sugar level, which could counteract the tryptophan in yogurt.

  • Opt for plain yogurt, or others that are low in sugar. If you like, you can sweeten plain yogurt with naturally-sweetened foods such as fruit.

  • To help aid the tryptophan, add carbohydrates such as granola, or eat yogurt with whole-grain crackers or toast. By combining yogurtr and carbs,  the carbohydrates will help your body clear your blood of other amino acids. This will help the tryptophan in the yogurt reach your brain faster and more efficiently.

Another plus to eating yogurt for occasional insomnia is that it contains probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria which work inside your body to keep your digestive system healthy.

By opting to eat yogurt at bedtime, it can work to reduce any gastrointestinal problems you may develop because of insomnia, and/or help to minimize gastrointestinal problems already present that hinder your sleep.

It should be noted that eating yogurt before bedtime will be of no benefit to you if you are consuming other foods or liquids that contain caffeine and counteract it.  It is not just coffee, tea and sodas that contain caffeine, but also foods that contain chocolate such as cakes, pies, candies, and puddings. Some foods such as beef jerky, sunflower seeds and even oatmeal are sometimes fortified with caffeine. Be sure you read ingredient labels prior to consumption.

You should also know that many pain relievers contain caffeine. Before you grab that bottle of headache pain relief before bed, check the label. If it contains caffeine, avoid it. Your headache may go away, but it could keep you awake all night whether you eat yogurt or not.

If you are dealing with more than occasional insomnia, visit your physician. Chronic insomnia, or insomnia that lasts for longer than a month, should be investigated. There may be a health reason you are unable to sleep at night that yogurt alone will not be able to treat.

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Land's free two week online sleep training for insomnia. Over 2,500 insomniacs have completed his course and 98% of graduates say they would recommend it to a friend.

See more helpful articles:

The Primary Components of Sleep Hygiene

High Cortisol May be Causing Your Insomnia

Understanding Sleep Debt and How to Overcome It