Monday, October 19, 2009

Best and Worst Foods for Your Sleep

Foods That Sabotage Your Sleep: The nightcap
A drink or two may make you feel more relaxed after dinner, but it comes back to haunt you—literally—a few hours later, by preventing you from achieving deep sleep. And because alcohol both dehydrates you and makes you have to pee, it wakes you up, too. Wine is high in the stimulant tyrosine as well.

Foods That Sabotage Your Sleep: Tomato sauce, chili, pizza, and spicy foods
Digestive disturbances are a common source of sleep problems, but many people fail to make the connection. Acidic and spicy foods can cause reflux, heartburn, and other symptoms that interrupt sleep.

Foods That Sabotage Your Sleep: Energy drinks
Red Bull and other energy drinks are high in caffeine as well as the amino acid taurine, which boosts alertness and adrenaline. Recent studies have shown that even if you drink energy drinks early in the day, the combined high dosage of taurine and caffeine can make it hard to sleep, or to sleep well, later on.

Foods That Sabotage Your Sleep: Chocolate
Love an evening cup of cocoa? That sundae in front of the TV? Be careful of chocolate in all its disguises. Many people are increasingly sensitive to caffeine as they get older, and even the little chocolate chunks in chocolate chip ice cream could zap you just enough to prevent ZZZZs. Chocolate also contains tyrosine, a stimulating amino acid.

Foods That Sabotage Your Sleep: Preserved and smoked meats
If you're having trouble sleeping, what about a midnight snack? Think twice—here are five foods that can prevent you from getting a good night's rest:

Slap your hand away when it reaches to make a ham sandwich as an evening snack. Ham, bacon, sausages, and smoked meats contain high levels of the amino acid tyramine, which triggers the brain to release norepinephrine, a brain stimulant that makes us feel alert and wired.

Best Foods for Your Sleep: Warm milk
Like bananas, milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which turns to 5-HTP and releases relaxing serotonin. It's also high in calcium, which promotes sleep.

Best Foods for Your Sleep: Oatmeal
Like toast, a bowl of oatmeal will trigger insulin production, raising blood sugar naturally and making you feel sleepy. Oats are also rich in melatonin, which many people take as a sleep aid.

Best Foods for Your Sleep: Toast
Carbohydrate-rich foods trigger insulin production, which induces sleep. Bring on sleepiness by speeding up the release of tryptophan and serotonin, two brain chemicals that relax you and send you to sleep.

Best Foods for Your Sleep: Bananas
Potassium and magnesium are natural muscle relaxants, and bananas are a good source of both. They also contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP in the brain. The 5-HTP in turn is converted to serotonin (a relaxing neurotransmitter) and melatonin.

Best Foods for Your Sleep: Cherries
Should you let yourself have that midnight snack if you're having trouble sleeping and you think hunger might be part of the problem?

Fresh and dried cherries are one of the only natural food sources of melatonin, the chemical that controls the body's internal clock to regulate sleep. Researchers who tested tart cherries and found high levels of melatonin recommend eating them an hour before bedtime or before a trip when you want to sleep on the plane.

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