October 1, 2018
It’s officially holiday season, which means before you know it, your calendar will soon start to fill up with various parties, work events, and family get-togethers. At all of them, there will inevitably be tons of delicious food. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, what you eat can actually help ease or even exacerbate the condition. With this in mind, which foods are safe for you to enjoy, and which ones should you avoid? Below, you’ll find a quick guide that will help you know which holiday treats you can indulge in without affecting your much needed rest.
1. Melatonin Rich Foods
Melatonin is a natural sleep enhancer, and it just so happens that you’ll find it in many fruits and vegetables. Items like cherries, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, grapes, broccoli, and cucumbers all contain this sleep-inducing hormone. One of the best natural sources for melatonin is actually tart cherry juice!
2. Omega-3 Foods
When you consume a high level of omega-3 fatty acids, this can help your body produce the melatonin we just touched on. The best place to get it is in a variety of seafood items, like salmon, tuna, and even shrimp. Enjoy that shrimp cocktail for a great night of sleep!
3. Tryptophan-Infused Foods
Tryptophan is an amino acid, and when you consume it, your body turns it into the neurotransmitter serotonin, and this is eventually converted into…melatonin! Turkey is famously rich with tryptophan, which is why taking a nap after the Thanksgiving meal is a tradition for almost everyone. You’ll also find tryptophan in chicken, fish, beans, nuts, and various vegetables.
Foods to Avoid this Season
“But I thought bananas were healthy?!” While they are a great source of potassium and fiber, eating bananas can actually increase mucus production in your mouth and throat, which can worsen the breathing problems associated with sleep apnea.
2. Fatty Meats
Items like steaks, burgers, bacon, pork, lamb, and sausage are all high in saturated fats, and eating too much of them can cause inflammation throughout the body. This can, in turn, lead to cardiovascular issues, which is always a big risk for someone with obstructive sleep apnea.
3. High-fat Dairy Products
Just like with bananas, high-fat dairy products like whole milk, cream, and heavy cheeses can increase your body’s mucus production. Eating them too often can also lead to weight gain, which is one of the leading risk factors for sleep apnea.
What to Remember
Basically, if you limit the fat in your diet this holiday season, you should be able to consistently get a good night’s rest. One thing that should be mentioned here that isn’t technically a food is alcohol. Consuming alcohol within a few hours of going to bed can make it easier for the muscles in your mouth and throat to relax and block your airway, increasing apnea symptoms, so try to keep adult beverages to a minimum!
And never forget, while diet is important, it is just a small component of your overall sleep apnea care, so be sure to keep wearing your oral appliance or CPAP to bed, even if you end up traveling this holiday season. Keeping all of this in mind will ensure that you’ll have plenty of energy heading into 2019!
About the Author
Dr. Kenneth Mogell is a certified sleep dentist who has been serving Florida for more than 30 years. At his practice, he can help people with sleep apnea in Jupiter get sleep testing and even provide custom-made sleep appliances to treat the condition. To get more helpful tips you can use this holiday season, or if you think that you might need treatment for sleep apnea, Dr. Mogell can be contacted through his website.
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