Sleep. Some people have trouble falling asleep. Some people fall asleep well however wake up frequently during the night. Some people experience night terrors, nightmares and sleep walking which also disturbs sleep. The economic cost of sleeping disorders in Australia has been estimated by the Sleep Health Foundation (in research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics) to cost over $36 billion. Sleeping problems can also affect the quality of life of the sufferer and their families.
When children experience sleeping problems, they can display symptoms of temper tantrums, moodiness and irritability, hyperactivity (yes even when tired), sleepiness during the day and teariness. Sleep deprived children can suffer reduced attention span, decision-making skills, memory, motivation and concentration.
Being aware of what food additives are being consumed, and reducing those additives, can significantly improve the sleeping patterns of children and adults.
When I first avoided additives with my children over 10 years ago, I was surprised to find that my sleeping patterns improved immensely. I had no idea that what I was eating could affect sleep. I used to experience wakeful periods during the nights where I would stare at the ceiling for a few hours before finally dozing off again. After some food challenges, the culprit was discovered…MSG.
MSG (monosodium glutamate, 621) and similar chemicals (other 600 numbers, HVP and yeast extract) can be found usually in savoury foods such as soups, gravies, flavoured chips and biscuits, chicken nuggets, flavoured noodles, chicken salt and veggie spreads.
For me, simply changing from BBQ flavoured chips to plain chips and using plain salt on chips rather than chicken salt dramatically helped my sleeping. We avoid all forms of MSG now and the whole family sleeps beautifully. It is easy to see when we have accidentally eaten something with MSG in it as we all have a restless night sleep.
Naturally occurring glutamates in soy sauce and concentrated tomato products can also be a problem if you are sensitive to MSG, so if you have sleeping problems, it is well worth investigating the presence of MSG in your diet.
Other additives can also cause sleeping problems, often associated with other reactions, for example colours causing hyperactivity, synthetic antioxidants causing anxiety and preservatives causing asthma coughs – all disturbing peaceful sleep.