Insomnia refers to the difficulty in falling and staying asleep. Poor sleep quality has a large impact on overall quality of health and increases the risk of certain chronic diseases.

  • Overview
  • Action Plan
  • Ask The Doctor
  • Success Stories
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A lifestyle of consistent exercise, proper sleep habits, and a Nutritarian eating style can help resolve insomnia.

Insomnia is a common complaint affecting almost 10% of the population.1 It is a symptom that accompanies many chronic diagnoses. It also leads to chronic mood disorders, as well as addictive behaviors, such as alcohol and drug abuse.

The symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Not feeling rested after waking up
  • Fatigue and daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Poor memory
  • Distracted and tend to make mistakes easily

The risk factors/causes of insomnia are multifactorial:

  • Increasing age
  • Female gender especially during menses or menopause
  • Medical conditions such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and circadian rhythm disorders
  • Psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression.
  • Prescription medications like beta-blockers and oral contraceptives
  • Recreational drugs like marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco
  • Caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, chocolate, sodas, and energy drinks
  • Working the night shift or rotating shift
  • Lack of daytime light exposure
  • Use of electronics (laptop, ipad, kindle) closer to bedtime
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Standard American Diet with processed foods, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and low amount of micronutrients
  1. Roth T. Insomnia: definition, prevalence, etiology, and consequences. J Clin Sleep Med 2007, 3:S7-10.

Action Plan


  • A Nutritarian diet with an array of cruciferous vegetables, other colorful vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds can improve micronutrient stores needed to maximize cell function, increase detoxification, stabilize glucose levels, and promote weight loss. This will help reverse chronic diseases, which will result in improved sleep quality.
  • Avoid caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol use is linked to disruptions in circadian rhythms and difficulty sleeping.1
  • Stop eating earlier in the evening. Eating is a signal to the body that it’s daytime, and eating too close to bedtime can disrupt circadian rhythms and diminish sleep quality.2-4


  • Dr. Fuhrman’s general supplement protocol for adults (see Vitamin Advisor for details) includes:

  • Additional supplements:

    • The amino acids L-tryptophan (precursor to serotonin) and L-theanine (found in green tea) and some plant extracts (including lemon balm, valerian, passionflower, and chamomile) have calming properties that may assist with sleep.5-9 

    • Calm Biotect was designed to support healthy stress levels, healthy sleep, and a relaxed, calm mind with a combination of brain health-supporting amino acids and plant extracts that work synergistically to aid brain health and emotional well-being. Ingredients include lemon balm, L-theanine, GABA, phosphatidylserine, ashwagandha, valerian, passionflower, and chamomile.

For supplement recommendations personalized to you, your health condition and goals, visit the Personalized Vitamin Advisor and answer a few questions.


  • Regular exercise can improve sleep quality.10 However, avoid exercising close to bedtime.

Other considerations

  • Avoid tobacco
  • Practice proper sleep hygiene: maintain a consistent sleep schedule, make your bedroom as dark as possible, minimize noise, keep your bedroom cool, and if possible, don’t wake to an alarm clock.
  • Exposure to morning sunlight or a therapeutic lamp can help normalize circadian rhythms and aid in regulating sleep cycles.
  • Keep a consistent relaxing bedtime routine avoiding any stressful, stimulating activity. Use the bed only for sleeping, not for reading or watching TV.
  • Avoid using electronics like laptops, smartphones, and tablets one hour prior to bedtime.
  • Avoid naps during the day, which will disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Progressive relaxation of muscles can promote a deep state of relaxation resulting in improved sleep. This involves contracting muscles for 1-2 seconds and then relaxing, starting with facial muscles and then going progressively down to the feet. Meditation and other relaxation techniques will also help.
  • Avoid prescription sleep aids (hypnotics). They are addictive and can cause many side effects, and are linked to increased risk of death.11

Find additional help

ONLINE: All members of can search the Ask the Doctor archives for discussions on this topic. Platinum and Diamond members can connect with Dr. Fuhrman by posting questions in the forum. Not a member? Join now.

IN PERSON: Book a stay at Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live Retreat in San Diego, California. With options ranging from one, two and three months (and sometimes longer) you will be under Dr. Fuhrman’s direct medical supervision as you hit the “reset” button on your health. For more information: (949) 432-6295 or [email protected]

EVENTS: Join Dr. Fuhrman for an online boot camp, detox or other event. During these immersive online events, you’ll attend zoom lectures, follow a special meal plan, and have access to a special, live Q&A session with Dr. Fuhrman. Learn more about events.

  1. He S, Hasler BP, Chakravorty S. Alcohol and sleep-related problems. Curr Opin Psychol 2019, 30:117-122.
  2. Patterson RE, Laughlin GA, LaCroix AZ, et al. Intermittent Fasting and Human Metabolic Health. J Acad Nutr Diet 2015, 115:1203-1212.
  3. St-Onge MP, Ard J, Baskin ML, et al. Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation 2017, 135:e96-e121.
  4. Longo VD, Panda S. Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan. Cell Metab 2016, 23:1048-1059.
  5. Jenkins TA, Nguyen JC, Polglaze KE, Bertrand PP. Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition with a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis. Nutrients 2016, 8.
  6. Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja LR, Ohira H. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol 2007, 74:39-45.
  7. Muller SF, Klement S. A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine 2006, 13:383-387.
  8. Taavoni S, Nazem Ekbatani N, Haghani H. Valerian/lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2013, 19:193-196.
  9. Adib-Hajbaghery M, Mousavi SN. The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people: A clinical trial. Complement Ther Med 2017, 35:109-114.
  10. Tan X, van Egmond LT, Cedernaes J, Benedict C. The role of exercise-induced peripheral factors in sleep regulation. Mol Metab 2020, 42:101096.
  11. Kripke DF. Hypnotic drug risks of mortality, infection, depression, and cancer: but lack of benefit. F1000Res 2016, 5:918.

Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


I am a 38-year-old male with no known health issues, except insomnia. I am mentally tired during the day from not sleeping well at night. I exercise nearly every day and generally am a very happy person. I am 6’3”, 180 pounds. I work in front of a computer all day and also at night when I get home. Could this be keeping me up? What else could it be?


You may have success incorporating this into your routine:

  1. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  2. Sleep in complete darkness with lower temperature.
  3. Turn off devices an hour before bed and remove TVs, laptops, and other devices from bedroom.
  4. If possible, get outside in the sunshine the same time every morning to help reset melatonin secretion cycles.
  5. Avoid exercising later at night. 

My teenage son has been suffering from insomnia for a couple months now. Living in the college dorms has made it worse. He is having a hard time functioning during the day because he is so tired. Do you have any suggestions?


He should learn how to meditate and truly relax and rest without even trying to sleep.

His diet needs to be better; he should take the typical supplements recommended and maybe try some of the herbal sleep aids, but overall, this is a problem likely exacerbated from stress and fear of not sleeping, and he has to get out of that cycle by learning how to get into a relaxation trance that is almost as good as sleeping. When he can be taught and convinced about totally relaxing his body and mind, he will eventually be able to sleep better again.

Also, morning sunlight, more outdoor activities, and more exercise can help.