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 Diet & Nutrition

August 2010
10 Foods that Seduce the Sandman
Foods that Help You Snooze
Dr Sreedevi Yadavalli
Have you ever tossed and turned in your bed, or simply stared at the ceiling all night wondering why you were still awake? The relationship between food and sleep is a very real one. Some sleep inducing foods contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted into the hormones serotonin and melatonin, both having a relaxing and somnolent effect.

Warm milk
Reason: Milk contains tryptophan that gets converted into sleep-boosting serotonin.
Suggestion: Savour a warm cup of milk for a nightcap, try and avoid sugar as it works anti towards your intentions.

Honey
Reason: Lots of sugar is stimulating, but a little glucose tells your brain to turn off orexin, a recently discovered neurotransmitter that's linked to alertness.
Suggestion: Drizzle a little in your warm milk or herb tea. Or try spreading it on the whole-wheat bread slice for your snack.

Oatmeal
Reason: Oats are a rich source of sleep-inviting melatonin.
Suggestion:
A small bowl of warm cereal with a splash of honey is cosy. Save this for dinner on nights when you return too worked up to relax and sleep.

Almonds
Reason: These heart-healthy nuts contain both tryptophan and muscle-relaxing magnesium.
Suggestion: Soak and grind almonds to add to your bedtime milk, or stir powdered almonds into the milk.

Poppy Seeds(Khuskhus)
Reason: Poppy seeds have been used as a condiment associated with sleep as early as the first century. It was considered sacred to Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep. It is derived from the opium poppy plant, which is known for its narcotic properties.
Suggestion: Add poppy seeds to your food. Soaking and grinding the seeds to a paste, and adding it to curry for the extra flavour is common practice in some parts of the country.

Foods that Sabotage Your Sleep
  • Nightcaps may help you relax, but alcohol can actually disrupt sleep. Alcohol also has a diuretic effect, which will send you scurrying to the toilet and disrupt sleep.
  • Caffeine is a stimulant and an obvious no-no. So also chocolate, tea, energy drinks and some sodas that pack a caffeinated punch.
  • Resist your cravings for spicy food as bedtime nears. They cause heartburn.
  • The same goes for greasy foods, which can be difficult to digest, and can cause upset stomach and heartburn.
  • Foods that contain tyramine such as bacon, aged cheese, chocolate, ham, sausages and wine. Tyramine is an amino acid that causes the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant that can keep you awake.

Carbohydrates
Reason: Carbohydrates cause blood sugar levels to rise, and that prompts the pancreas to put out more insulin. Insulin in the blood stream facilitates the entry of tryptophan into the brain.
Suggestion:Snacking on a slice of low-fat cheese melted over whole-wheat bread with a slice of tomato. Other options include vegetable soup or fruit salad an hour or more before bedtime.

Turkey
Reason: Remember the phrase; snoozing after Thanksgiving? It’s the turkey, and it contains tryptophan.
Suggestion: Snack on a turkey sandwich and feel the turkey lullaby.


Bananas
Reason: They're practically a sleeping pill in a peel. In addition to a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, bananas contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant.

Suggestion: Have a banana for dessert.




Chamomile Tea
Reason: This has a mild sedating effect, and is the perfect natural antidote for restless minds and bodies.

Suggestion: Try chamomile for a bedtime tea.
 
Cherries
Reason: Fresh and also dried cherries are one of the only natural food sources of melatonin, the chemical that controls the body’s internal clock to regulate sleep.
Suggestion: Include cherries in your fruit salad for dessert. Especially try eating cherries before a trip when you want to sleep on the flight.

For some information about recipe: Khuskhus Kheer


    
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