Kiwifruit for Insomnia

Kiwifruit for Insomnia
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Two kiwi fruit an hour before bedtime may improve sleep quality and duration, without the side effects associated with sleeping pills.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The number one question in sleep research is “Why do we sleep?”—followed by the question, “How much sleep do we need?” After literally hundreds of studies, we still don’t know the best answer to either question. A few years ago, I featured a large 100,000 person study suggesting that “Both short and long sleep duration were associated with increased mortality,” with people getting around 7 hours of sleep living longest.

Since then, a meta-analysis of all such studies including more than a million people was published, and they found the same thing. We still don’t know, though, if “sleep duration is a cause or simply a marker of ill-health.” Maybe, sleeping too little or too long does make you unhealthy. Or, maybe we see the associated lifespan shortening because being unhealthy causes you to sleep shorter or longer.

Similar work has now been published on cognitive function. After controlling for a long list of factors, men and women in their 50s and 60s getting seven or eight hours appeared to have the best short-term memory, compared to those that got much more, or much less. Same thing was just demonstrated with immune function: “Both reduced and prolonged habitual sleep durations [were] associated with [an] increased risk of pneumonia.”

It’s easy to prevent over-sleeping; set an alarm. But, what if your problem is not getting enough? What if you’re the one in three adults that suffers symptoms of insomnia? Sure, there are drugs, like Valium, you can take for insomnia in the short-term. But, they have a number of adverse side effects. And non-pharmacological approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, are “often difficult,…time-consuming,” and don’t always work. Wouldn’t it be great to have “natural treatments that can improve both sleep onset and help patients improve the quality of sleep while improving next-day symptoms over the long term?”

The “Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems.” Two kiwifruit an hour before bed, every night, for four weeks. Why study kiwifruits? Well, people with sleep disorders tend to have high “levels of oxidative stress,” so, antioxidant-rich foods might help. But, all fruits and vegetables have antioxidants. Ah, but kiwifruits contain twice the serotonin of tomatoes. But, it really shouldn’t cross the blood/brain barrier. Kiwifruit has folate, and a deficiency might cause insomnia, but, there’s lots more folate in some other plant foods.

The reason they studied kiwifruits is because they got grant money from a kiwifruit company. And, I’m glad they did, because they found some really remarkable results: significantly improved sleep onset, duration, and efficiency using both subjective and objective measurements. Went from sleeping six hours a night to seven, just eating a few kiwifruit.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Simo ubuntu and Lisa Rosario Photography via flickr, and Batholith via Wikimedia. Thanks to Stephane Lahaye and Ellen Reid for their Keynote help.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The number one question in sleep research is “Why do we sleep?”—followed by the question, “How much sleep do we need?” After literally hundreds of studies, we still don’t know the best answer to either question. A few years ago, I featured a large 100,000 person study suggesting that “Both short and long sleep duration were associated with increased mortality,” with people getting around 7 hours of sleep living longest.

Since then, a meta-analysis of all such studies including more than a million people was published, and they found the same thing. We still don’t know, though, if “sleep duration is a cause or simply a marker of ill-health.” Maybe, sleeping too little or too long does make you unhealthy. Or, maybe we see the associated lifespan shortening because being unhealthy causes you to sleep shorter or longer.

Similar work has now been published on cognitive function. After controlling for a long list of factors, men and women in their 50s and 60s getting seven or eight hours appeared to have the best short-term memory, compared to those that got much more, or much less. Same thing was just demonstrated with immune function: “Both reduced and prolonged habitual sleep durations [were] associated with [an] increased risk of pneumonia.”

It’s easy to prevent over-sleeping; set an alarm. But, what if your problem is not getting enough? What if you’re the one in three adults that suffers symptoms of insomnia? Sure, there are drugs, like Valium, you can take for insomnia in the short-term. But, they have a number of adverse side effects. And non-pharmacological approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, are “often difficult,…time-consuming,” and don’t always work. Wouldn’t it be great to have “natural treatments that can improve both sleep onset and help patients improve the quality of sleep while improving next-day symptoms over the long term?”

The “Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems.” Two kiwifruit an hour before bed, every night, for four weeks. Why study kiwifruits? Well, people with sleep disorders tend to have high “levels of oxidative stress,” so, antioxidant-rich foods might help. But, all fruits and vegetables have antioxidants. Ah, but kiwifruits contain twice the serotonin of tomatoes. But, it really shouldn’t cross the blood/brain barrier. Kiwifruit has folate, and a deficiency might cause insomnia, but, there’s lots more folate in some other plant foods.

The reason they studied kiwifruits is because they got grant money from a kiwifruit company. And, I’m glad they did, because they found some really remarkable results: significantly improved sleep onset, duration, and efficiency using both subjective and objective measurements. Went from sleeping six hours a night to seven, just eating a few kiwifruit.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Simo ubuntu and Lisa Rosario Photography via flickr, and Batholith via Wikimedia. Thanks to Stephane Lahaye and Ellen Reid for their Keynote help.

Doctor's Note

For more on the power of kiwis, see Kiwifruit & DNA Repair and Kiwifruit for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and for more on sleep, see Sleep & Immunity and Optimal Sleep Duration.

Videos on other natural remedies for various conditions include:

Stay tuned for Tart Cherries for Insomnia.

For further context, check out my associated blog posts: Two Kiwifruit an Hour before Bedtime and Foods with Natural Melatonin.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

30 responses to “Kiwifruit for Insomnia

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  1. If they received “grant money from a kiwifruit company”, then why is their study any less biased than those studies you previously referred to that were funded by the salt or dairy or meat companies. Isn’t the whole purpose of science to reach objective explanations by eliminating biases? If so, shouldn’t we disregard all studies that are funded by corporations?




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    1. Just like we should take studies funded by the Salt Institute with a grain of salt, we should take these findings with a grain of kiwi :)

      The difference between this and the other examples you cite is what’s the worst that can happen? Even if this data was totally fraudulent, the worst case scenario if someone follows this advice is that they eat a really healthy fruit and only get all its other benefits (even if it doesn’t actually help with sleep). That’s the wonderful thing about plant-based research!

      And industry influence is rarely about outright fraud but about study design. One just has to be mindful about study sponsors to make sure the study wasn’t constructed in a way to bias the results.




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      1. re: “One just has to be mindful about study sponsors to make sure the study
        wasn’t constructed in a way to bias the results. That is something for
        which I am indeed constantly on the lookout.”

        That’s what the average lay person (and according to Dr. Campbell, even the average scientist and medical professional) can’t do for themselves / must rely on a responsible expert for. That you care about this aspect of studies is one of the reasons I love your work.

        Thanks for taking the time to answer BPCveg’s question as I think it was a good one. And you had a good answer too.




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      2. Well put Dr. Greger!

        In reference to “industry influence is rarely about outright fraud. . .” I don’t know if you (or anyone reading this) has ever seen this documentary on the business of cancer but it will open anyone’s eyes to the corruption of the FDA, NCI (National Cancer Institute), ACS (American Cancer Society) and AMA (American Medical Association) and expose the outright fraud involved in Cancer treatment and the bias to ensure expensive, pharmaceutically based therapy and procedures.
        Backed up from numerous hard statistics, peer reviewed articles, research and verifiable references.

        Warning not a feel-good movie and will utterly disappoint one about the absolute corruption involved in the treatment (or lack thereof) of cancer.

        Titled, “Healing Cancer from the Inside Out.” A link for Amazon is below if you are further interested.
        http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=healing+cancer+inside+out&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=4379198355&hvpos=1s2&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1260389170734642939&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_40drrvwgi9_b




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      3. Thanks for your reply, though I have to disagree with you.
        You yourself have provided evidence that certain plant products (e.g. coconuts and avocados) are of dubious health value – but you had to cut through a lot of conflicting studies to reach those conclusions. So how come you are so accepting of corporate sponsored kiwi research? Is it any more obvious that a kiwi is beneficial than a coconut? Same question applies for any animal product!

        I hope you were joking when you said that “industry influence is rarely about outright fraud but about nuanced study design”. Else it may be time to re-read ‘How to Lie with Statistics’ by Darrel Huff.

        Corporations have no other interest than profit. They will bend-over-backward to skew research in their own favour.

        I second the motion made by SFV below, which suggests that some kind of validity rating be provided to give your audience a sense of the credibility of any study that you report.




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  2. Interesting, but I’m wondering if it’s just the combination of sugar and fiber in the kiwifruit that are doing the trick. Low blood sugar levels can raise your cortisol levels and keep you up at night, one of the reasons a little milk before bed has been recommended for years. Would a glass of soymilk do the same thing? Maybe the Silk people should fund a study.




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  3. Interesting for myself. But my mother 70 years old is suffering from insomnia. Unfortunately she has some kiwifruit allergy. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.




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  4. Did that study have a control group or a placebo group? I can’t tell from the abstract, but it looked like it didn’t. Did the subjects know they were in a study designed to see if sleep could be improved eating kiwi?

    I’d like to see the results of a study which subjects think is looking at whether kiwi impairs sleep. Probably they’d be up all night.

    Did anyone else look at that time-lapse video of the baby and notice how underweight, colicky and covered with eczema he was for the first few months? I wonder if he had an undiagnosed dairy allergy. Poor thing. He did not look like a happy baby for quite a long time.




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  5. Hi Dr. Greger. I think it would be a big improvement if the videos could briefly indicate the limitations of the studies that are mentioned. There is basically no meaningful conclusion from a study with 24 subjects and no control group. Few people, if any, will be able to act on every study that you mention, so distinguishing well-designed studies and highly substantiated results and recommendations from methodologically weak studies and tentative conclusions would help viewers to focus on the most critical actions they can take to enhance their health. I know that’s what you are aiming for in your longer video summaries. I also understand that time is very limited on the daily video clips. Maybe you could have a 1-to-5 type validity rating for the studies that you cite. Viewers without a research background or a strong grounding in nutrition issues might come away thinking the the China Study and the kiwi study are equally valid. That would be a shame. I don’t want to end this comment without expressing my daily gratitude for the work that you are doing for the benefit of us all.




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    1. Can simply try 2 kiwis an hour before bedtime and see if it works for you! Like with anything else, one’s man food is another man’s bad meal.




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  6. Just remember, if you ate some watermelon earlier with your dinner (for your erectile dysfuntion), not to have kiwifruit for a bedtime snack—cross-purposes.




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  7. Too bad the starting image is of a baby sleeping on its stomach. This is not the recommended position nowadays — to avoid infant sudden death syndrome.




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  8. Would you please look into and report on perilla seeds?
    It seems they are now being hailed as the next big “superfood” with the “selling factor” being their Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio (allegedly 6:1).
    Is there any truth to the claims or is this more hype?




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  9. Love the subtitles, but could they have a background so they’re easier to read? Not that I actually READ them… but I’m thinking of others…




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  10. Kiwi vs Goji for sleep? I’m already enjoying 15 goji berries a day (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/dietary-prevention-of-age-related-macular-degeneration/) with a Brazil Nut (for Selenium and maxing the absorption of goji carotinoids). I’m curious how the melatonin content from my 15 goji (which I now enjoy 1-2 hours before bed: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/tart-cherries-for-insomnia/) compares to two kiwi for improving sleep. Can any educated guesses be made from the studies so far?




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  11. I heard this somewhere a while ago, and we started offering our two year old daughter kiwi as dessert after dinner – and she has slept much, much better since then! Could be a coincidence though, because I agree with some of the writer above, this study is pretty dodgy (no control group, could all be placebo effect), but because my daughter loves Kiwi anyway, we switched it from lunch to dinner. We experimented a bit (no kiwi on day x, kiwi on day y) and she does sleep better after a kiwi. And so do we. Could still be due to something else, of course – but I do recommend other parents to try this if their children (age appropriate of course, not infants) like kiwi and don’t sleep so well.




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