Last week I ran a simple experiment whereby for 5 days I went on a pure vegetarian, almost vegan diet. Not only was it veggie but it was very high fiber. To keep things simple I ate for lunch every day veg quiche, lots of black beans and sprouts. Initially the experiment was to see if having a good breakfast (which I normally do), followed by a substantial lunch and then a light evening meal or on odd days no evening meal would improve night time sleep. I also thought that I would check my cholesterol levels at the end of the 5 days to see if these had been effected.
I can report that there was no real change in my cholesterol levels. My HDL came in at 75 mgdl which is 1.93 mmol and my LDL was 112 mgdl which is 2.89 mmol.
Something very interesting did happen on the sleep front however. First of all there was no real change in sleep quality with the light evening meals. Of course I am comparing light or no meal with a normal meal at around 6pm and not with a meal out with friends at 8pm which can have an effect on sleep especially if you pig out.
So where did the surprise come in?. On one particular evening I did feel peckish but of course not wanting to break the veggie intake I decided to go for a curry at a local indian and of course stick with a veggie choice. I also wanted to keep the high fiber aspect so opted for a chickpea curry and pilao rice (wish indian restaurants would do brown). For most men and indeed women beyond the age of 50 getting up in the night for a leak is a curse. It breaks your whole sleep rythmn and effectively degrades your sleep quality. Getting up more than once is a disaster even if you seemingly get the same number of hours sleep. Now I am utterly convinced that most of our health efforts are futile unless we get good quality sleep, it is the foundation to everything else we do.
On the night of the chickpea curry I slept like a baby all through the night, something I do not normally manage. All other nights even on the weeks high fiber diet involves sometimes more than one loo break and hence broken sleep.
Since the fiber week I have tired the chickpea curry on two other occasions and the same blissful night has occurred on each occasion, waking feeling refreshed and full of energy. The question now is what is the key ingredient, is it the curry or the chick pea or something else in the curry, or perhaps a synergy of all components. I hope it is not the latter as I do not think a chickpea curry every night is possible although it does beat beans and sprouts.
The next step will be to try chickpeas on their own followed on another night by a non chickpea curry. I will report back later unless of course you have all fallen asleep by then.