Can Foods be Responsible for Loss of Sleep?
As is clear by now, not all foods are good for our sleep. There are a some common foods in our diet which we consume every day that have an adverse effect on our sleep and can lead or aggravate to sleeping disorders like insomnia. But which ones are they?
Which Foods are Bad for Sleep?
Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that increases brain activity – which is the opposite of what we want happening in our body when trying to sleep. Even small amounts of caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns. While coffee and chocolates (sadly, that includes hot chocolate too) are the most obvious sources of caffeine, there are other not so obvious foods that have caffeine in them. Tea, soda, and even some medications are examples of it.
Alcohol: Alcohol might be a sedative but it’s a bad one. Consuming alcohol with dinner or taking a night cap before going to bed might help in falling asleep but the quality of sleep is bad. Your sleep won’t be deep and you’ll wake up in the middle of the night once the effects of alcohol wear off.
Spicy food: Foods that have a lot of spice in them can cause acidity and/or heartburn. Both tend to get worse after lying down. The digestive system slows down after sleep so going to bed soon after eating a spicy meal can lead to sleep problems.
Protein rich foods: Proteins may be important for our body but taking protein rich foods during the day is the best option. Taking them at night can hamper sleep as most protein rich foods contain tyrosine which promotes brain activity. They’re also hard to digest.
Nicotine: Nicotine has the same effects as caffeine. It increases brain activity and hinders sleep. Avoid smoking before going to bed and don’t smoke if you wake up in the middle and can’t go back to sleep.
Fluids: Avoid drinking too much water, juices or other liquids before going to bed. Drinking water before bed will interrupt your sleep as you’ll need to get up in the middle of the night to go to urinate. Once awake, you may have trouble going back to sleep. The ideal time to stop taking liquids is ninety minutes before bed time.
Big meals: Eating large meals for dinner can lead to trouble sleeping. While a large meal might make you feel drowsy, it won’t make for comfortable sleep or any sleep at all. In short, don’t go to bed on a full stomach.
Precautions & Additional Tips
It is important to remember that these foods are merely bad for our sleep. Avoiding them completely is not the answer and is bad for our health. To improve sleep, change the timings of the intake of these foods. Drink coffee in the morning. Stop drinking alcohol at least two hours before your bed time. The same goes for nicotine, fluids and meals. Making a few adjustments in the timing of food consumption can make a big difference to your quality of sleep.
This post is part of the series: Diet: The Sleep Connection
Our diet and quality of sleep are connected to each other. Just as some foods contribute to our lack of sleep, some foods encourage sleep. It’s why we don’t give foods high in sugar to our kids before their bed time. Find out which foods are harming your sleep and which ones are helping it.