Did you know that the foods you eat can have a serious impact on your sleep?
Here's an example. Remember the Atkins diet which was very popular a few years back? The reason it was popular was because it worked well. Many people lost weight on the Atkins diet which urged it's followers to eat plenty of meat and other protein foods as well as foods high in fat like fried eggs and sausages. On the banned list were bread, pasta and other carbohydrates.
What's all this got to do with sleep? It turned out that some people on the Atkins diet found that they were having trouble sleeping at night even if they'd never previously had sleep problems. This is because their carbohydrates were so restricted, they developed a condition called "Serotonin Deficiency Syndrome"
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter formed by the body from eating foods containing the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is mainly found in carbohydrates rich foods like rice, pasta and bread. If your diet is too low in carbohydrates you will probably be low in serotonin.
Serotonin is converted into melatonin via the pineal gland. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that controls our circadian rhythm. Without melatonin our sleep-wake cycle is disrupted.
So that's why it's best to have a high protein breakfast and lunch and have plenty of carbohydrates like pasta, rice and potatoes for dinner.
Foods for insomnia that contain serotonin include dairy products such as cottage cheese, cheese and milk, soy products, seafood, poultry, whole grains, beans, rice, hummus, lentils, hazelnuts, peanuts, eggs, sesame and sunflower seeds.
Foods that keep us awake contain tyramine. Tyramine is an amino acid that causes the release of a brain stimulant called norepinephrine, that can keep us wired all night long. Tyramine foods include ham, bacon, sausages, cheese, aubergines, tomatoes, red wine, peppers, smoked meats, fish and, (unfortunately), chocolate.
How about what we drink? Most of us know not to drink coffee, tea or cola in the evenings, but what about the supposedly healthy energy drinks? You know, like the ones that give you wings? Energy drinks can cause widespread insomnia, especially among teenagers who use them to stay awake longer and study better. Manufacturers of these so called "healthy" drinks purposely target our young folk with their advertising.
These energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and taurine. Taurine is an amino acid that causes an alert state. Combined together these substitutes can cause high blood pressure, elevated heart rate and dehydration. They're also easy to become addicted to.
These drinks become especially dangerous if alcohol is added. This is because you're combining the energy drink which contains stimulants and alcohol which is a depressant.
We simply do not need these drinks to feel energetic. All your getting are empty calories combined with a chemical cocktail which could lead to sleepless nights even if you consume them in the morning. All we really need for energy is water, the right foods and enough sleep. Eating the right foods for insomnia and avoiding energy drinks can radically improve your sleep. Worth a try!