Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Eat your veggies and sleep!
I've become fascinated with sleep. How much we need it. How little we value it. And what happens to our health when we don't get it. Sometimes I wonder if we should be obsessed with sleep and not worried about what we eat.
Now the two worlds have collided!
It has been found that melatonin is a component of some vegetables. Some Japanese researchers gave a group of women high amounts of six specific vegetables. Another group of women was asked to avoid these same vegetables during the same time period. The women who consumed the vegetables had higher amounts of melatonin by-products in their urine.
Melatonin, as you know from reading this blog, is a sleep enhancing hormone and a very powerful antioxidant.
Of course, the very first thing most people will ask on reading this, is "what vegetables?"
I don't think the power in this study comes from the melatonin content of the vegetables. Melatonin is a highly unstable compound and it would be challenging to have it stay intact in a compound that is harvested, stored, chopped, and cooked before eating.
What may be happening here, is that vegetables are great sources of antioxidants. And since melatonin appears to be the ultimate antioxidant, it is called to duty when other antioxidants are in short supply and cannot do their job. If your melatonin is on cleanup duty, it can't be used to help you sleep!
The melatonin in the urine, I'm guessing, came from the fact that melatonin was allowed to function as melatonin, and not changed as it was used as an antioxidant.
So...the strategy appears to be, to eat as many different vegetables as you can in order to have maximum antioxidant power. And that will give you a better chance at getting a good night's sleep.
I know that it's difficult not to yawn if you see someone else yawning, so on behalf of helping you feel sleepy, here's a wonderful blog a friend told me about yesterday!
It's called Cute Things Falling Asleep.
Oba S, Nakamura K, Sahashi Y, Hattori A, Nagata C. Consumption of vegetables alters morning urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin concentration. J Pineal Res. 2008 Aug;45(1):17-23. Epub 2008 Jan 15.