The Nut That Can Help You Sleep

I love food almost as much as I love sleep. I adore growing it in my garden (or at least trying to!), exploring new recipes, and then of course there is the reward of enjoying all of the flavors and spices that come together in a bowl of something mm-mm-good.

Most recently, I’ve fallen in love with learning how to use food as medicine.

In January of this year, I embarked on a year-long certification program with Andrea Nakayama’s Functional Nutrition Alliance to become a Functional Medicine Nutritionist. Andrea is amazing, and these classes have deepened my relationship with both food and my body.

I now understand how, despite thinking I was making healthy choices, many of my past food preferences have contributed to some of my own personal health challenges, like early menopause and osteopenia. I’ve made lots of changes to my diet to support my health and I now hold the power of food and food choice in high regard.

Food can course correct and heal what is going on in the body. Once a person embraces certain food choices, both disease regression and prevention of illness can often be the result.

I’ve approached my functional medicine nutrition studies with a lens of sleep, taking note of the many foods that provide the vitamins, minerals, and other essential elements that play a vital role in falling and staying asleep.

Get NUTS about sleep!

Have you ever had a Brazil Nut? These meaty, crunchy beauties have been a long time favorite of mine, and they are jam-packed with SELENIUM. In fact, they happen to be one of the richest dietary sources of selenium on the planet. Eating one or two Brazil Nuts each day will provide you with the full daily recommended dose of this essential mineral! (55mcg/day age 14 and older).

Selenium can help you fall asleep.

In a 2013 NHANES review study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, researchers determined that people with selenium deficiencies experienced more difficulty falling asleep.

In fact, of the over 4500 people surveyed, researchers determined that the amount of selenium in a person’s diet predicted how easily they fell asleep. People with ample dietary selenium had an 80% greater ease in falling asleep.

Selenium can help you stay asleep.

These same researchers look at this data again and published a second study looking at sleep duration. Once again, selenium for the win! Individuals with healthy selenium intake had a 33% lower risk of having challenges staying asleep.

The selenium-deficient folks were found to be “short sleepers”, which was defined as getting only 5-6 hours of sleep. Remember, it is recommended that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

If you are someone who struggles with falling and staying asleep, it is definitely worth looking at how much selenium is in your diet.

Food as Medicine

There is no need to rush out and buy supplements to get your selenium. Most grocery stores sell raw Brazil Nuts. In fact, I was delighted to come across bags of organic Brazil Nuts during my last visit to Costco. Brazil Nuts are also an excellent source of monounsaturated fats (MUFA – which support healthy HDL cholesterol), thiamin, vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus. Wow!

If nuts aren’t your thing, other excellent sources of selenium include wild-caught seafood, like oysters, halibut, or sardines, and free-range, grass-fed, organic protein like eggs, poultry or beef. It is very important to choose wild-caught and free-range organic products to ensure they are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (versus pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids).

Brazil Nut Bonus

In addition to helping with sleep, selenium happens to be a powerful antioxidant that supports brain and heart health, immune and thyroid function, and lowered inflammation and risk of certain cancers. You can read more about this here.


If your sleep is driving you nuts, I can help. Schedule your 15 minute discovery session with me by clicking HERE.

Until next time…

Sleep Coach, Sleep Science Coach, Functional Medicine Nutrition, Building Biology, Environmental Health, Spiritual Psychology, Sleep Better Now