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Are some foods sleep inducers?

Nearly everyone is familiar with the family holiday dinner syndrome. After eating your way through generous helpings of every dish gracing the table, you adjourn to the living room and sink into a comfortable chair, possibly to watch the televised football game. Long before the official gun marks the end of the first half you are already in dreamland.

Your drowsiness is caused by more than the sheer bulk of food you consumed or the dullness of the game or its commentator. Certain of the foods you are likely to eat on such occasions are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin, a biochemical that has a soporific effect on man and other animals. Foods known to have high levels of tryptophan include turkey, beef, pork, and lamb - all traditional specialties for festive affairs.

Because carbohydrates also help produce serotonin, the gargantuan portions of starchy potatoes, yams, and bread you ate allowed the sandman to perform his miracle in a wink. The type of food affects how long you will be sleepy. Your body digests fats more slowly than it does carbohydrates and proteins, so the higher your meal's fat content, the longer your doze.

Alcohol compounds the dozing problem. It anesthetizes brain cells that normally would keep you alert. Naturally, if your food and alcohol intake is too much or too rich, your peaceful slumber may be short-lived when a nightmare or upset stomach gives you a rude awakening.

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15:31:16 on 03/24/08 by Webmaster - Food, Health and Fitness -