Are you getting enough sleep? If not, you are not alone. A recent study has found that one in every two Indians (46 per cent) sleeps less than six hours. A busy work schedule, a hectic social life, household chores and children’s worries leave little time for sleep. Modern life builds up so much stress and anxiety that when we do get to bed, most of us find it difficult to sleep well.
Adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night, to perform optimally. Children need even more sleep. Less sleep causes morning headaches and daytime fatigue, leading to poor concentration and performance.
Insomnia includes the inability to sleep, frequent awakenings during the night and not being able to go back to sleep, or waking up too early. Women are more likely to suffer from chronic insomnia – the ratio is about two women to one man. Working women, in particular, build up a large sleep debt over the years.
To a large extent, we can control the quantity and quality of our sleep. The key to a restful night’s sleep is to calm down your brain rather than rev it up.
What you eat affects how you sleep. Some food slows down nerve traffic and calms the brain and contributes towards a restful sleep; such food are called sleepers. Other perk up the brain and keep you awake; such food are called wakers.
Sleepers contain tryptophan, an amino acid that makes up protein, which produces the sleep – inducing substances, serotonin and melatonin. Food that contains tryptophan or make more tryptophan available to the brain make us sleepy.
Ideal sleepers are food which contains moderate amounts of carbohydrate stimulates the release of insulin which clears amino acids that compete with tryptophan making it more available to the brain. At the same time, protein contributes tryptophan directly to the brain.
Great snooze food includes; dairy products (paneer, cheese, milk and curd), meat, poultry or seafood, whole grains vegetables and pulses (including soyabeans).
Indian dinners usually have a fair share of these types of food. However, our traditional cooking practices include a lot of fat and spices, both of which in terferes with sleep.
Calcium helps the brain use tryptophan; this explains the soporific effect of a glass of milk at bedtime. Foods containing caffeine such as tea,coffee, colas and chocolates are wakers. a high-protein meal without carbohydrates contains the amino acid, tyrosine, which perks up the brain.
An all carbohydrate snack, especially one high in sugar, is less likely to help you sleep. It will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low, you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep. Also, you will miss out on the sleep-inducing effects of tryptophan.