According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost six out of ten Americans report having insomnia and sleep problems at least a few nights a week. Some types of insomnia include sleep apnea, which involves interrupted breathing and snoring during the night; narcolepsy – which causes people to fall sleep through the daytime; insomnia from hormone fluctuations such as menstruation or menopause; restless leg syndrome – which causes sensations in the legs described as creeping, crawling, pulling, or painful; and insomnia from the use of medications, caffeine or alcohol.

Natural minerals such as potassium and calcium have been shown to have beneficial effects on the quality of sleep. One recent study from the Journal “Sleep” examined the effects of potassium supplements on sleep quality. The researchers gathered data from wrist monitors and notes made in sleep diaries. Normal young males on a low-potassium diet participated in the study. After one week of taking potassium supplements, there were significant improvements in their quality of sleep and less waking up during the night.

One of the healthiest, highest sources of potassium is the banana, which contains 400 milligrams. Eating a banana before bedtime may help reduce nighttime awakenings and provide better, deeper sleep. A banana can also be ateen in the middle of the night to help one get back to sleep.

Here is a list of some other high-potassium foods, courtyy of the Linus Pauling Institute:

Potato, baked with skin, 1 medium, 926 mg

Prune juice, 6 fluid ounces, 528 mg

Plums, dried (prunes), 1/2 cup, 637 mg

Orange juice, 6 fluid ounces, 372 mg

Tomato, 1 medium, 292 mg

Spinach, cooked, 1/2 cup, 420 mg

Sunflower seeds, 1 ounce, 241 mg

Almonds, 1 ounce, 200 mg

Calcium is also directly related to our cycles of sleep. In one study, published in the European Neurology Journal, researchers found that calcium levels in the body are higher during some of the deepest levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. The study concluded that disorders in sleep, especially the absence of REM deep sleep or disturbed REM sleep, are related to a calcium deficiency. Restoration to the normal course of sleep was achieved following the normalization of the blood calcium level.

William Sears, MD 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.”

Foods and minerals can be a great help in reducing insomnia and getting better sleep.