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Eating carbohydrates promote good sleep

Consuming carbohydrate based, high glycemic index (GI) foods that digest quickly, a few hours before bedtime help people to drift off to sleep more quickly.

Eating carbohydrates promote good sleep

Consuming carbohydrate based, high glycaemic index (GI) foods that digest quickly, a few hours before bedtime help people to drift off to sleep more quickly. Researchers from the University of Sydney in New South Wales found that an evening snack of simple carbohydrates could combat insomnia. Getting a good night's sleep is also about having good sleep habits and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. If one has to struggle to fall asleep even after doing all this, they need to discuss with their doctor, whether using a high GI evening meal might help them. It may also potentially help those who struggle to fall asleep after shift work or overseas travel. Glycaemic index (GI) is a number from 1 to 100 that ranks carbohydrates based on how quickly they cause blood sugar to rise. Low-GI foods, like oatmeal and vegetables, cause only a gradual increase in blood glucose and typically contain plenty of fibre, while high-GI foods such as white rice or bananas contain simpler carbohydrates and less fibre. Carbohydrates are known to increase blood levels of tryptophan - needed to produce serotonin, which promotes sleepiness. High-GI foods also boost the amount of tryptophan in the blood compared with levels of other amino acids, which may further speed up serotonin production. To investigate whether the GI of a carbohydrate meal influences sleep, the researchers had 12 healthy men undergo four different tests each: a meal of low-GI Mahatma rice eaten 1 or 4 hours before bedtime and a high-GI Jasmine rice dinner, again consumed at 1 or 4 hours before bed. It was found that when the men ate the high-GI meal 4 hours before going to bed, they took 9 minutes to fall asleep, compared with nearly 18 minutes after they ate the low-GI meal at the same time. The men took 15 minutes to drop off when they ate the high-GI meal 1 hour before bed. The researchers plan to conduct further testing in this area in people with insomnia because their study used good sleepers with little room for sleep improvement. Other foods that might have a similar effect include some types of bread, potatoes, cereal bars, and certain breakfast cereals.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
February 2007
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