WHAT IT IS: Insomnia is the inability to get to sleep or to stay asleep for the night.
YOU ARE AT INCREASED RISK IF YOU
• are a smoker
• are stressed, anxious, or depressed
• have a loud or light sleeping environment
• have a condition such as sleep apnea
FOODS TO INCREASE
• Foods that contain tryptophan. Good choices are turkey, chicken, fish, cottage cheese, bananas, eggs, nuts, avocados, milk, cheese, beans, and peas, especially for children and especially at breakfast.
Tryptophan metabolizes into melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep cycles.
• Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index—rapidly absorbed carbs— eaten four hours before bedtime to get to sleep faster. Men who ate the high glycemic index meal four hours before bedtime got to sleep in an average of 9 minutes in contrast to men who ate the low glycemic index meal, who took 17.5 minutes to get to sleep. The same foods eaten one hour before bedtime did not have the same effect.
FOODS TO AVOID
• Alcohol. A study of people living in northwest Russia showed that those who abuse alcohol are more likely to have sleeping disorders. Alcohol can relax the upper airway and worsen sleep apnea, which can cause insomnia.
• Any liquids prior to two hours before bedtime, as the need to urinate may wake you during the night.
• Foods to which you are allergic. In one study, seventeen toddlers (average age 13.5 months) who had unexplained sleeping problems and suspected undiagnosed milk intolerance had cow’s milk excluded from their diet. Within six weeks, fifteen of the seventeen children had normalized sleep patterns, falling to sleep faster (in ten minutes instead of fifteen) and sleeping longer (for 13 hours instead of 5.5).
• Spicy foods, especially those that may cause heartburn and especiallyat dinner. • Tea and coffee. People who did not lower their overall tea and coffee consumption had more sleep problems than people who did lower it.
• Creamy Goat Cheese Pesto Omelet
• Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean) Soup
• Shrimp and Egg Burritos with White Beans and Corn
WATER-COOLER FACT: Eating breakfast every day can help you get a good night’s sleep. A Japanese study found that those who skipped breakfast were more likely to experience insomnia.