Popular autumnal fruit ‘rich’ in minerals that can boost sleep

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There can be many factors that contribute to having difficulty sleeping. Often these can be psychological with stress and anxiety two major causes of insomnia. However, our diet can also play a part.

According to Doctor Deborah Lee, from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, eating pumpkin could be hugely helpful if you’re struggling to get enough shut eye.

Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk, she said: “Many studies have looked at the link between diet and sleep.

“Pumpkin contains large amounts of the amino acid tryptophan and is also rich in minerals, magnesium and zinc.

“As you will see, eating pumpkin may be beneficial for sleep for the following reasons.”


Tryptophan is important for sleep as it is a precursor for serotonin and melatonin.

Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter which has an integral role in the induction of sleep and is linked to feelings of lethargy and drowsiness.

Melatonin is the major sleep hormone, produced in the pineal gland when daylight falls.

It works with your natural circadian rhythms – the natural 24-hour body clock – to regulate other functions such as your body temperature, blood pressure and the levels of other hormones.

In a 2010 review of the effects of tryptophan on sleep, the authors concluded that one mg of tryptophan improved sleep latency (time spent falling asleep) and subjective perception of sleep quality.

Tryptophan is found in pumpkin seeds. Two hundred mg of pumpkin seeds contain one gram of tryptophan.

In rats, tryptophan supplements have been shown to increase melatonin levels, in a laboratory setting.


Pumpkin is also rich in magnesium. Various studies have shown that magnesium supplements can improve sleep.

For example, in one 2012 randomised controlled trial, in a group of elderly people with insomnia, there was a significant improvement in those who took magnesium, in time spent asleep, sleep quality, and sleep onset latency.

There was also a small (but not statistically significant) reduction in early morning waking in the magnesium group.

Magnesium blocks N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors (critical for sleep induction), and stimulates gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors (which slow brain activity ready for sleep). Both of these pathways are vital for the induction of sleep.


Pumpkins also contain large amounts of zinc. People who suffer from insomnia have been found to have lower levels of zinc than those who do not.

Zinc plays a crucial role in the maintenance of circadian rhythms.

In a 2018 randomised controlled trial, 54 ITU nurses were given a zinc supplement every 72 hours for a month, or a placebo.

At the end of the study, the zinc group has significantly improved sleep latency and showed significant improvement in their sleep quality scores.

Blood levels of zinc had increased in the zinc group.

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