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  • By The Physician


What is Sleep Quality?

Sleep quality refers to a combination of easy induction of sleep, sufficient time being spent in the deeper levels of sleep as well as REM (rapid eye movement sleep), and adequate total sleep time.

What affects Sleep Quality?

The biggest challenge to sleep quality is insomnia. There are two basic forms of insomnia. In sleep-onset insomnia a person has a difficult time falling asleep. In sleep-maintenance insomnia a person suffers from frequent or early awakening.

The most common causes of insomnia are psychological: depression, anxiety, and tension. If psychological factors do not seem to be the cause, various foods, drinks, and medications may be responsible. There are numerous compounds in food and drink (most notably caffeine) that can interfere with normal sleep. There are also over three hundred drugs that interfere with normal sleep.

What dietary factors are important in Sleep Quality?

Here are the key dietary factors:

Eliminate caffeine. It is essential that the diet be free of stimulants such as caffeine and related compounds. Even small amounts of caffeine such as those found in decaffeinated coffee or tea, may be enough to cause insomnia in some people.
Eliminate alcohol. Alcohol causes the release of adrenaline and disrupts the production of serotonin (an important brain chemical that initiates sleep).
Avoid sugar and foods with a high glycemic index. Eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrate and eating irregularly can cause faulty blood sugar control leading to the release of adrenaline and cortisol during the night.
Foods high in the amino acid tryptophan, such as turkey, milk, cottage cheese, chicken, eggs, and nuts, especially almonds, may help to promote sleep. In the brain, tryptophan is converted to serotonin and melatonin, which are natural sleep-inducing compounds.

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