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Indian curry gives me a good nights sleep....why?

Discussion in 'Sleep' started by cigana, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. cigana

    cigana Senior Member

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    I have known of this for years, but I have never worked out why. Very consistently, if I have curry in the evening, then I sleep all night. Otherwise I usually wake up 3-5am.

    The first thing I know you will say is "it's the curcumin!" As I have posted before curcumin is one of the only things that does help me sleep (the other being lipospheric vitamin C). However, it has to be a particular brand (Enhansa), otherwise I get no effect at all. Enhansa was developed for increased absorption. Anyway, Enhansa only helps me sleep an extra couple of hours (i.e. it prevents me from waking at 3 and usually guarantees I sleep until at least 5am). Whereas curry will help me sleep the whole night. I also tend to eat much larger quantities of curry than I would any other meal.

    Obviously curry does not contain any kind of special curcumin (just regular turmeric, although it may be freshly ground). There are many reports that curcumin's absorption is enhanced when it is cooked in oil. In order to test this, I have very many times tried many doses of turmeric cooked in oil/fats and have got absolutely no effect from this.

    There are many other spices in curries (e.g. cumin, coriander, paprika, chilli, ginger, garlic, methi, curry leaves, fenugreek, asafoetida, cinnamon, clove, cardamom etc.). I tried many times cooking with all of these (and more), again with no effect on my sleep. Perhaps I am using the wrong ratios/doses. Perhaps I need much more salt (British Indian curry is very salty), or particular kinds of oils. Other salty foods do not seem to have an effect on me though.
    So, it's a real mystery - home cooked curry has no effect.

    I hope others could try this, and some of you may have ideas about why it works?

    BTW: For those of you outside of the UK who do not know, Indian curry is the most popular dish in the UK, there are many restaurants and the food is always incredibly tasty. They use some kind of special cooking techniques which I have found impossible to replicate at home. For those who know indian food, the kind of dishes I am talking of are rogan josh, bhuna, balti, saag bhaji, bombay aloo etc.
     
  2. Mij

    Mij Senior Member

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    cigana and Gondwanaland like this.
  3. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    Very interested in this post as I seem to get similar benefits from eating curry (and it does wonders for my often very sluggish digestive system). It also helps greatly with sinus problems.

    Are you getting your curries from restaurants, @cigana ? I mostly make them at home using Ruby June's fresh curry sauces (http://www.junesindiankitchen.co.uk) which my local farm shop carries. All fresh ingredients, and it makes preparing a curry very quick and non-strenuous.
     
  4. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    As a long time curry fan, I have two thoughts. The first is freshness of ingredients. Many restaurants grow some of their own produce, and that can include basic spices, though the more exotic ones are very hard to grow in other climes. The second thought is cooking process. Many spicy dishes are made from "slow" cooked sauces from the spices. Basically they make fresh curry paste and use that, though often its more a slurry than a paste . The food goes in only when the sauce is ready.

    Do the same benefits occur from Thai curries? Burmese? Middle eastern or African curries?

    I have experienced better sleep after curry as well, but not reliably. In the last few years chili has also triggered my neuropathy and breathing issues. So now I eat curry without chili, which means I have to blend my own spices. I used to have a curry powder recipe I used a lot, but I have not made it in a long time.

    Curry fixes my sinuses for hours, but alas not days.
     
  5. MikeJackmin

    MikeJackmin Senior Member

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    One of my secret weapons for getting a good night's sleep when I really need one, is having a large meatball sub for dinner, with pepperoni and black olives.

    This goes against every bit of good advice I've seen about how to prepare yourself to sleep well. But there's no denying it works.
     
    SOC and rosie26 like this.
  6. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    LOL. Not going to try that one, but funnily enough, another thing that works for me is cheese last thing at night. Little bit of cheese = long, dreamless sleep.
     
  7. Mij

    Mij Senior Member

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    Do you have OI? That combo is high in sodium. I had similar experiences with eating pizza before bed.
     
    WillowJ likes this.
  8. cigana

    cigana Senior Member

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    Yes I get them from restaurants. Home cooked curries do not work at all (and I have tried many recipes).
     
  9. cigana

    cigana Senior Member

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    I have tried quite a few times the slow cooking recipes...which basically involves simmering the base sauce for most of the day. I've tried plenty of "restaurant style" recipes like that...none of them work. However, I would also say that none of them capture the restaurant taste, so they are obviously not the same. (Perhaps then it is about the freshness of ingredients....but there are different flavours in the restaurant dishes, like smokiness and tanginess that are never in the home-cooked recipes). I don't think any of the restaurants in the UK grow their own produce.

    Thai curries do not work. I've never tried Burmese/Middle Eastern/African...

    It may simply be that since restaurant curries are so good, I tend to really eat a lot, which means I am probably taking in a huge amount of salt. I suppose I could test this by taking salt tablets....I wonder what dose would be appropriate...

    It could also be the sheer quantity of food knocking me out...
     
  10. eafw

    eafw Senior Member

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    It could actually be that when you don't eat as much your blood sugar is dropping through the night - when do you normally eat your last food of the day ? - and that will wake you.

    Another way to test this is about 1/2 hr before bed to have a heaped teaspoon or two of glucose powder (if you can tolerate it) Boots sell it in a box as Glucose C, and see if that helps keep you going through the night.

    Longer term solution maybe a late night snack if it is the blood sugar issue.
     
    rosie26 likes this.
  11. perchance dreamer

    perchance dreamer Senior Member

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    The food that helps my sleep is turkey. It doesn't really make sense because chicken actually has more tryptophan than turkey, but chicken does not help my sleep at all.

    Cinnamon, cardamon, and ginger--common curry ingredients--are in one of the bedtime teas I drink at night. I assumed they are in there for flavor, but maybe they also have sedative effects:

    https://www.yogiproducts.com/teas/soothing-caramel-bedtime/
     
  12. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    That does point towards the salt doing something for you. It's no secret that most curry houses put a lot of salt in their dishes — partly for taste, partly to boost those lager sales.
     
    cigana likes this.
  13. cigana

    cigana Senior Member

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    Good point, I do tend to eat later in the evening if I'm having curry. Usually I eat around 8pm, with curry I might take my last bite around 10pm.
    I tried living for 2 weeks on pure glucose powder...it didn't have any effect on my sleep. I also used to frequently test my blood sugar levels and they were always normal. But I will try the glucose again and at least eating something before sleep - thanks for the idea.
     
  14. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    That can happen, and may be an OI thing or even an histamine thing.
     
    cigana likes this.
  15. WillowJ

    WillowJ คภภเє ɠรค๓թєl

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    Late night snack, especially something with a bit of protein and/or a bit of fat, helps me sleep, too (I guess something that sustains the availability of nutrients throughout the night). Cheese works well. Nut/seed butters are great, too.

    If I feel hungry, I cannot sleep. (Also if I am at all cold or hot, I cannot sleep).
     
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  16. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Here is an hypothesis that might be worth thinking about. What happens if eating more food and a good dose of spice boosts your leptin levels but suppresses an inappropriate leptin response? Its worth considering, but would need a lot of research and may be totally wrong.
     
    taniaaust1, cigana and sarah darwins like this.
  17. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Note that curcumin should not be equated to turmeric, although many people seem to think these are more or less the same thing.

    Only around 3% of turmeric is curcumin; but turmeric also contains various other active ingredients, such as demethoxycurcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, ar-turmerone, atlantone, and zingiberone.

    In particular, ar-turmerone may inhibit microglial activation.


    You might want to try say 1000 mg of turmeric powder (= half of a level teaspoon) before bed to see if that helps sleep. I take this amount of turmeric each day for anti-anxiety purposes (see my anti-anxiety thread here). Taking too much turmeric can cause diarrhea, so you probably don't want to go above 2000 mg.
     
    PallasKat likes this.
  18. Gondwanaland

    Gondwanaland Senior Member

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    For me the right combo for a good night's sleep is chicken w/ turmeric, generously salted (grey salt). It's been a long time since I last ate curry. Love it so much. Next time will put curry in my chicken.
     
  19. Mij

    Mij Senior Member

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    It appears as though the key insomnia ingredient in the curry is whole ground nutmeg(it contains myristicin) , one TBSP in a recipe. I am going to get myself some and a proper grater. My sleep is ok at this time but I would like to sleep straight through the night.
     
    cigana likes this.
  20. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    That's an interesting suggestion. A quick Google check on nutmeg indicates it can be good for insomnia.

    The myristicin in nutmeg is a 5-HT2A receptor agonist (other 5-HT2A receptor agonist include: cannabidiol, and many psychedelics). There is a thread on this forum about how cannabidiol helps sleep.

    Though this study indicates that 5-HT2A receptor antagonists are useful for those with difficulty in staying asleep.
     

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