Lorraine: Daisy Maskell discusses living with insomnia

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It is thought that around a third of all Britons struggle with sleep at least once in their lives. If it continues for a prolonged period of time it can not only make daily activities difficult, but it can have an impact on our health. While a major cause of insomnia is related to our mental wellbeing, it has been suggested that a lack of a certain nutrient could also be to blame.

Sleep expert Mary-Grace Taylor, from Amerisleep, spoke with Express.co.uk to explain more.

She said: “It’s true that countless people struggle with getting the seven to eight hours of nightly shuteye.

“But often, having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep is the result of a series of lifestyle choices that snowball together to yield night after night of tossing and turning.

“You probably know that steering clear of caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime can significantly up your odds for having a good night’s sleep but sleeping well isn’t just about avoiding the wrong foods or drinks.

“Certain foods can actually help you sleep even better and stop you from being restless during the night.”

She recommended eating a portion of Brazil nuts, which are technically seeds, to help get some shut eye.

“These are one of the best sources of selenium, which is a micronutrient short sleepers tend to lack,” she said.

“These mega nuts also pack minerals like phosphorus and magnesium.

“Brazil nuts are especially good for vegetarians, since most other selenium sources are animal-based.”

This was backed by health advice website Healthline, which said, “Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium.

“One ounce, or about six to eight nuts, contains about 544 micrograms (mcg).”

However, it warned: “Make sure you only eat a serving of Brazil nuts a few times a week to avoid selenium toxicity.”

As a trace mineral, the human body does not need excessive amounts of selenium – for the average adult only around 55mcg a day is required.

Whereas pregnant women need between 60 and 70mcg of selenium.

As well as aiding sleep, selenium has other health properties.

It can assist DNA synthesis, reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism and protection against infection.

Other sources of selenium include:

  • Fin fish and shellfish
  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Fortified cereals
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Beans, lentils
  • Eggs.

Some signs of selenium deficiency are:

  • Hair loss – in clumps
  • Discoloured nails and skin
  • Itchy scalp or dandruff
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Brain fog
  • Muscle weakness
  • A weak immune system
  • infertility issues.

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