Narcolepsy diet is another key point while dealing with this sleep disorder. Sooner or later the patient suffering from this disorder has to think about his diet. Therefore below health letter provides some insights regarding diet control.
Narcolepsy and Diet Therapy
Narcolepsy is long term disorder. Regulation of sleep and wake cycle gets disturbed in this sleep disorder. As a result, the person suffers from sleep attacks. Daytime sleepiness is a prominent symptom of narcolepsy. Many narcoleptic also suffer from catalepsy. In the event that sleep-wake cycle got affected, the person could not retain wakefulness for a longer duration.
What we eat impacts our health. Diet itself is seen as part of medical therapy. Same is true for narcolepsy also. Many people overlook this fact. Additionally, they may eat or drink wrong just to add fuel. Narcolepsy is one of the disorder that affects individual’s social life. Hence narcoleptic individual has to take extra care. Do’s and don’t of diet carry the major share of that care.
To begin with, there is no prescribed diet for this sleep disorder. Furthermore, each individual has his own sphere. Hence diet recommendations may get vary. Still, there are few general things which one can focus upon.
Narcolepsy diet: Role of food in sleep-wake regulation
In order to understand narcolepsy diet, let’s discuss the relation between food and sleep. Obviously, for the hungry individual, sleep initiation is difficult. Similarly, fasting individual hardly enjoy a good quality of sleep. Likewise, after heavy meals, one may catch sleep even at the odd time. Hope, you must have understood, food plays an important role for our sleep habits.
Food may exacerbate or alleviate sleep attacks. Narcolepsy individual lacks in neuropeptide known as Orexin. Loss of Orexin producing neurons causes narcoleptic sleep attacks. This neuropeptide also regulates our appetite.
Narcolepsy Required Nutritional Elements
Certainly, food that enhances daytime alertness is a key priority. Such ingredients also help in reducing the frequency of sleep attacks.
Below is the list of common ingredients that help to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
- Calcium: Enhances nervous system functions, moderates aging process
- Magnesium: Controls more than 300 enzymatic processes, Enhances nervous system functions, relieves stress. Green vegetables, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, salmon, and milk products are best resources for calcium and magnesium.
- Lecithin: Improves brain functions
- L-Glutamine: Fuels 2 important neurotransmitters i.e. GABA and glutamic Acid. Glutamine provides energy to the brain
- Octacosanol: Enhances nerve nourishment
- Vitamins: Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption, Vitamin E improves brain circulation, Vitamin B Complex reduces damage caused by free radicals
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Cell membrane protection. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are important types of Omega-3 fatty acids. One may find these in fish oils. These Omega 3 fatty acids improve brain function and memory. Hence, it is advisable that they are included in the diet for someone with narcolepsy.
It is always beneficial to have above nutrients via natural source. Multiple narcolepsy nutrients are available in the market. However, it is better to consult with your physician before using them.
Foods that may trigger sleep attacks
While planning for diet, avoid the diet that causes daytime sleepiness. Obviously, heavy meals tend people to drowse. Hence, narcolepsy diet plan comprises of a small quantity of meals. Schedule of food items is another key point. Morning or afternoon meals should not have ingredients causing sleepiness.
Instead of 3 servings, one should aim 5-6 servings. Second or third should with ingredients enhancing alertness. Stimulant foods should be strictly avoided in 5th and 6th serving.
Below is the list of food items that may trigger sleep.
- Foods containing tryptophan (Milk, chicken, and eggs, are generators of serotonin in the brain and considered good for patients suffering from narcolepsy. Serotonin stabilizes mood and encourages feelings of well-being)
- Caffeine if taken in stronger dose
- Energy Drinks
Foods that may disturb natural sleep
The normal healthy adult requires 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Disturbance in night hours sleep urges individual to have a sleep during daytime. In other words, it exacerbates daytime sleepiness. With this in mind, narcolepsy sufferer should avoid food items that disturb natural sleep. Below is the list of such food items.
- Tea especially has taken before 2 to 4 hours of sleep
- Caffeine especially was taken before 2 to 4 hours of sleep
- Stimulant drinks
- Spicy foods during dinner
- French fries
Beneficial food items for narcolepsy
There is indeed a relation between food and sleep. Balancing of schedule, quantity and food items helps narcolepsy sufferer. Below are some points to be considered while planning narcolepsy diet
- Include green vegetables in all meals
- Fresh fruits
- Skimmed milk
- Whole grains
- Natural items with high protein contents
Key points to remember while planning narcolepsy diet
As discussed earlier, narcolepsy is the chronic sleep disorder. Obviously, one has to understand the importance of diet in narcolepsy. Exclusion of bad food items enhances natural sleep during the night. Similarly, the inclusion of good food items provides required a nutritional value.
- Be aware of value of food in combating sleep attacks
- Avoid junk and oily food
- Focus on whole grains
- Avoid processed foods
- Control Chocolate Cravings
- Small meals help to avoid excessive daytime sleepiness
- Low-fat cleansing foods like green veg helps
- Include food items rich in Vitamin D. For example fish, orange juice
- Include Vitamin B Complex rich foods. For example brown rice, whole grains
- Include calcium rich food
- Eat food rich in amino acids like eggs, poultry etc.
- Avoid spicy foods
- Avoid nicotine, stimulant drinks like tea, coffee 2-4 hours prior to bed
- Refined foods and sugars cause blood sugar fluctuations
- Stick to the diet plan
- Maintain individual sleep schedule, diet plan
- Avoid working in shifts or maintain shift schedule
- Avoid late night movies, parties
- Take short naps in-between
- Reduce fat intake and increase fibers intake in diet
- Consume protein like L tyrosine which is needed for keeping alertness and improving brain functions
- Few best food resources: Almonds, cabbage, kidney beans, oats, pistachios, bananas, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, spinach, wheat, sunflower seeds, Milk, tuna fish, turkey and eggs, and evening primrose seeds
- Foods containing Coenzyme Q10, it increases circulation to the brain
An expert on diet and nutrition could provide you plan. It is always recommended to consult your physician regarding diet plan. Narcolepsy diet aims to reduce daytime sleepiness and promotes natural sleep. Hence, in major extent, it is applicable for insomnia patients also.