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Sleeplessness is harmful
Insomnia, the inability to sleep, can be agonizing. It robs you of necessary sleep at night, forcing you to blunder drowsily through the day. Down the line it also means increased risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

While sleeping pills offer relief, relying on them can become an addiction. But it`s also possible to improve your sleep through food.

Have a bedtime snack

Some foods contain chemicals that induce sleep. The chemical, tryptophan, in milk causes your body to produce an amino acid called L-Tryptophan. This amino acid is essential in the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin, both of which slow down nerve traffic in the brain, calm you down and help you get sleep

Tryptophan is found in milk and milk products, soya beans, nuts, beans, honey eggs, fish, poultry and other high-protein foods. Bananas, oats, and honey are other good sources. A small helping of such foods had before bed can make you sleepy.

The problem is that foods containing tryptophan often contain another amino acid called tyrosine that stimulates you making you more energized. This can nullify the sleep-inducing effect of these foods.

The solution is to eat foods that allow you to utilize the tryptophan without interference. One way to do this is to include some carbohydrates to induce production of insulin that helps to release tyrosine from the blood stream, leaving tryptophan free to do its work. An overdose of the carbohydrates can be counterproductive as the excess insulin produced can, again, cause fitful sleep.

Also read: Pay off your sleep debt

Image: Flickr/creativecommons Alyssa L Miller

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