Who among us does not suffer from sleep problems? It's not always to the extent of insomnia, sure, but everyone at one point or another in their lives has been plagued with trouble sleeping.
While the main cause of insomnia is often related to our mental health, many studies suggest that a lack of certain nutrients may be part of the problem.
Sleep experts explain that while many people struggle to get enough sleep – seven to eight hours of sleep each night – a series of lifestyle choices that add up can cause us to suffer from fluctuations and sleep deprivation.
Avoiding caffeine, for example, a few hours before bed can increase the chances of a good night's sleep. However, good sleep is not just about avoiding the wrong foods or drinks, but rather there are certain foods that can improve sleep.
Among those foods are Brazil nuts and almonds.
How can these foods help people sleep?
According to sleep experts, Brazil nuts and almonds are some of the best sources of selenium, an important trace mineral in the human body that is lacking in people who suffer from insomnia.
Nuts also contain minerals such as phosphorus and magnesium. About six to eight walnuts contain about 544 micrograms of selenium.
On the other hand, the experts warn that it is important to make sure to eat a portion of Brazil nuts a few times a week alone to avoid toxicity. The human body does not need excessive amounts of selenium, as the average adult only needs 5 micrograms per day.
Pregnant women, on the other hand, need between 60 and 70 micrograms of selenium.
What else can selenium do for the body?
In addition to helping with sleep, selenium has other health properties - it helps in the process of DNA replication, reproduction and thyroid hormone metabolism and protection against infections.
Signs of selenium deficiency include, but are not limited to: hair loss, changes in the shape of the nails and skin, itchy scalp or dandruff, extreme fatigue, "brain fog", muscle weakness, a weak immune system, as well as fertility problems.
Other sources of selenium include beef, turkey, enriched cereals, whole wheat bread, beans, lentils and eggs.