It’s as important as the air we breathe and the food we eat, but unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with the ability to fall asleep the moment our heads touch our pillows and sleep soundly throughout the night. Insomnia becomes more of a problem as we age and as we decrease the intensity of our activities. A night spent tossing and turning has adverse consequences on both your health and the ability to function well the following day. So if you’re looking for a good night’s sleep in the food that you eat, here are a few helpful tips:
Serotonin helps: There are some foods that tend to make us naturally drowsy, and these are the ones that are rich in the amino acid tryptophan. This is converted into melatonin and serotonin, both of which induce sleep. Tryptophan is found mostly in non-vegetarian foods like chicken, salmon, tuna, beef, lamb, turkey, halibut and shrimp and in dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt. But if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you could turn to soy products, nuts, seeds, potatoes and bananas to help you get a good night’s sleep. A word of warning though before you go all out and eat a heavy meal of meat before you turn in – food rich in protein is also likely to contain the amino acid tyrosine which tend to boost your adrenaline levels and interfere with your sleep pattern. So while you may feel drowsy initially, you’re going to have trouble sleeping soundly if you eat foods that are high in protein close to bed time.
Carbohydrates are good: If you’re not a diabetic, you could increase your carbohydrate intake in order to boost your blood sugar, and hence insulin, levels soon after a meal. The large amount insulin helps transport more amino acid to your brain, and when your brain gets more tryptophan, you tend to get sleepier. So the ideal bedtime snack would be one that’s rich in carbohydrates with a little amount of protein and fat.
Besides this, you need to avoid foods with caffeine in them, like colas, coffee, tea and chocolates, before you go to sleep. These are stimulants and tend to interfere with normal sleep patterns. It’s also important to exercise on a regular basis, because when your body is tired, you tend to sleep immediately. Some people may find it helpful to relax before bedtime with a book or a crossword puzzle, but for others, such stimulating activities may actually interfere with their ability to fall asleep. Eat your last meal of the day at least an hour before you get into bed so that you’re not prone to heartburn and other gastric problems. In addition to all this, a regular routine helps prevent insomnia – get up and go to bed at the same time every day, and avoid daytime naps so that you feel sufficiently tired at night.
This article is written by Kat Sanders, who regularly blogs on the topic of phlebotomy technician at her blog iScrub. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org