The first night my insomnia was unexpected; I went to bed at midnight and lay there. It had been a busy day, with a full slate of school work (yes, on a Sunday) followed by a few hours at my chef-friend’s about-to-open restaurant, preparing for the next day’s special menu-tasting event. Most of the menu items contained animal products, so I ate a light vegan meal and enjoyed several glasses of a red wine over the four hours I was there. I was a bit surprised that I did not fall asleep when I went to bed. I tried to read. I tried to sleep. I thought soothing thoughts. I tried to think about what might be worrying me. I wasn’t lying in bed with my mind running. In fact, I felt quite peaceful – just wide awake.
I got up the next morning, Monday, and was grateful for my busy day. I spent the day on campus. Even though it was school night, I had agreed to help serve at the tasting event at which 30 invited guests would sample and critique proposed menu items. Just as I had the evening before, I ate a later, light vegan meal and enjoyed several glasses of a red wine during the five hours I was there. I was quite tired by the time I got home at 11:30; if you’ve never slung plates, you have no idea how tired a waitressing shift – even a short and easy one like I’d had – will leave you worn out. Much to my surprise, I was sleepless for a second night.
At 6:30 this morning, I bounced out of bed to walk the dogs as scheduled. I didn’t get drowsy until my late-morning class, in a warm room, after a Clementine Izze and a banana, but snapped right out of it. I mentioned to my classmates that I had not had any sleep, and a very clever person asked me what I had changed. Could it be my vegan diet? I didn’t think so; after all, I’ve lived as both vegan and vegetarian in the past with no sleep changes. Could it have been the cleanse (see Ayurvedic Cooking, 1/16/10below)? If so, I would have thought I would have felt the effects days ago.
Suddenly, I realized, the only change I’d made was drinking wine! Although I don’t drink much or often these days, I have in the past without noticing any effects. (If my college friends are reading this, you are probably laughing.) However, this time I drank several glasses, ate lightly, and hadn’t eaten any animal products for three weeks. It turns out that “a number of factors influence the absorption process, including the presence of food and the type of food in the gastrointestinal tract when alcohol is consumed. The rate at which alcohol is absorbed depends on how quickly the stomach empties its contents into the intestine. The higher the dietary fat content, the more time this emptying will require and the longer the process of absorption will take. One study found that subjects who drank alcohol after a meal that included fat, protein, and carbohydrates absorbed the alcohol about three times more slowly than when they consumed alcohol on an empty stomach.”
“Food, especially high protein food such as meat, cheese and peanuts, will help slow the absorption of alcohol into your body.” I suspect that my veggie-centric diet contains adequate protein and healthy fats, but is not high in either, which resulted in a lot of sugars (energy) flowing through my blood-stream, for quite a while. So, I’ve apologized to my liver, taken some B-12 lozenges (they were already in my cabinet – not a new, non-vegan purchase), eaten dinner (oven-roasted veggies), and am looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Wish me luck!