Sleep. A pillar of health. That human necessity that’s intrinsically linked to longevity, happiness, motivation, weight management and all round health. Sleeplessness affects your memory, mood, concentration, immune system, sex drive amongst a whole host of other things. Sometimes it’s a short term predicament as a result of a stressful situation or noisy neighbours, other times it could be due to unresolved emotional issues, thyroid problems, sleep apnea, pain or a lack of exercise. It may also be because of what you’re eating, check the list below and if you’re still experiencing problems after make the adjustments, seek a health professional.
Foods Bad for Sleep
Caffeine’s stimulating effects can last anywhere from 8 to 14 hours, so eating chocolate before bed may not be a good idea. Chocolate bars have varying amounts of caffeine, but an average 2-ounce, 70 percent dark chocolate bar contains around 79 milligrams—over half of what’s in an 8-ounce cup of coffee.
While a late-night glass of wine can help relax you and help you fall asleep faster, it actually prevents your body from fully indulging in its REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle, which is where truly restful sleep and dreaming occurs. Research shows that drinking alcohol before bed can make you more likely to wake up throughout the night and diminishes quality of sleep. Alcohol can also lead to snoring since it is a potent muscle relaxer.
- Fatty Foods
High-fat foods take longer to digest, which keeps your body up working rather than relaxing. Fatty foods often cause bloating and indigestion that interferes with a sound night’s rest. This leads to a more fragmented sleep, so you wake up the next morning without feeling refreshed.
- High-Sugar Cereals
Eating high-sugar cereals will make your blood sugar spike and crash, which will affect your sleep. Choose cereal with less than five grams of sugar per serving.
- Hot Peppers & Spicy Foods
Spices like cayenne and Tabasco get their metabolism-boosting properties from capsaicin, which can trigger heartburn in sensitive individuals; this compound also increases blood flow. Their thermogenic properties can increase the body’s core temperature. Since your core temperature naturally decreases as you get ready to sleep, raising it can cause you to feel more awake and struggle with staying asleep.
- A High-Protein Dinner
Eating a high-protein meal before bed can lead to sleep disturbances. Experts believe it’s because a protein rich meal contributes less tryptophan—the amino acid which is a precursor to the calming hormone serotonin and the sleep hormone melatonin —than it does other amino acids. A lower tryptophan to other large amino acids ratio actually reduces serotonin.
- Dried Fruit
Consuming too much of a high-fibre food like dried fruit can bother your stomach and cause you to have cramps during the night. This is thanks to their high-fibre, low-water content.
If you drink too much right before bed, you may find yourself awakening multiple times to urinate. Start to taper off your fluid intake about three hours before bedtime.
The combination of fat in the cheese and the acid in the tomato sauce can have a negative impact on your sleep quality. High-acid foods can trigger acid reflux, especially when eaten close to bedtime. Even if you don’t feel heartburn, this reflux can cause you to awaken partially from sleep and leave you tired the next day.
There are plenty of health benefits of mint, but sleeping well isn’t one of them. Peppermint can be a heartburn trigger. So, definitely stay away from it before bed.
- Green Tea
On top of caffeine, green tea contains two other stimulants, called theobromine and theophylline, which may cause increased heart rate, feelings of nervousness, and overall anxiety.
- Raw Onions
Raw onions can cause gas that affects the pressure in your stomach, which can result in acid to enter back into your throat. Studies have found that raw onions can cause potent and long-lasting feelings of reflux in people who already have heartburn.
- Too Much Food
When you eat a large meal before bed, your body is working to digest it long into the night—and if your body is still worked up, so are you. The later you fall asleep, the less rest you’ll get, and you’ll wake up feeling groggy and more likely to reach for calorie-dense items.
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