The Scientific Reason Eating Eggplant May Prevent You From Falling Asleep

When you nod off after a massive Thanksgiving dinner, there may be a few reasons why. While the amino acid tryptophan in turkey was once thought to be the culprit, we now know that the amount in a typical serving of turkey is trivial and isn't likely to make you tired. Instead it's the copious amounts of food, and/or alcohol, and work you put into making dinner that are to blame.

But while big meals can make you want to take a nap, why do certain foods make you want to stay awake? There are a number of foods — and drinks — you may be consuming that could prevent you from falling asleep at night. Caffeinated drinks like coffee and sodas are obvious ones, and while a glass of wine may make your eyes droop, alcohol actually prevents you from staying asleep throughout the night. If you love spicy food, you may want to limit it to early meals, as a study in the International Journal of Psychophysiology found that consuming tabasco sauce and mustard disrupted the sleep of its subjects.

When you think of eggplant, you may not associate it with sleep deprivation, but there's a good reason you may want to eat your eggplant parmesan for lunch instead of dinner.

Eggplant contains a stimulating amino acid

Besides being a key ingredient in delicious dishes like eggplant parmesan and moussaka, eggplant is a nutritious food. The vegetable is full of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can help maintain healthy cells, and polyphenols, which can help diabetics process sugar. Yet if you're struggling to get a good night's sleep, eating eggplant before bed may be part of the problem.

According to the International Journal of Medical Sciences, an amino acid called tyramine contributes to the release of adrenaline and other stimulants, and may disturb your sleep. And what foods is tyramine found in? Eggplants contain the acid, but they're not the only ones — bananas, plums, and raspberries produce tyramine too, as do aged foods like cheeses and meats in even higher amounts. So while the tyramine in a banana may make for a beneficial breakfast food when you're trying to wake up, it can also indicate that you should avoid eating eggplant before bedtime.  

Tyramine isn't all bad, though; it's an amino acid that naturally occurs in our bodies that helps to regulate our blood pressure. To take advantage of its adrenaline-inducing qualities without costing you precious sleep, try incorporating eggplant into your morning omelet, frittata, or quiche.