The five worst foods for your sleep

April 5, 2018

My wife always says that a woman needs her beauty sleep.  There’s a lot of truth in that.  Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

 

The way you feel while you're awake depends in part on what happens while you're sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

 

Yet, nearly a third of adults in developed countries are sleeping just six hours or less each night, putting them at risk of adverse health effects (such as heart disease and obesity) and potentially fatal drowsy driving linked to lack of sleep.

 

While stress is one of the most-often cited reasons why people can't sleep, there's another factor that could be keeping you up at night: your diet. Certain foods can significantly interfere with your sleep, including these five sleep killers:

Alcohol

A drink or two before bed can make you drowsy, leading many to believe it's actually a good idea for

sleep. But while it may make you nod off quicker, research shows that drinking alcohol makes you more likely to wake up during the night, leaving you feeling less rested in the morning.

The latest study found that alcohol increases slow-wave "deep" sleep during the first half of the night, but then increases sleep disruptions in the second half of the night. Since alcohol is a powerful muscle relaxant, it can also raise your risk of snoring. If you don’t sleep by yourself, snoring can also keep awake your bed partner.

Caffeine

Coffee, of course, is one of the most common sources of caffeine. This stimulant has a half-life

of five hours, which means 25% of it will still be in your system even 10 hours later, and 12.5% 20 hours later (see the problem?).  In addition, in some people caffeine is not metabolised efficiently, leaving them feeling its effects even longer after consumption. So, an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will keep some people from falling asleep at night. Be aware that some medications contain caffeine as well (for example, diet pills).

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, though the healthiest form of chocolate from an antioxidant standpoint, can contain relatively high levels of caffeine that can keep you awake at night if you're sensitive to caffeine. It also contains theobromine, a compound that has caffeine-like effects.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods prior to bedtime can give you indigestion that can make it difficult to get a good night's sleep. But even if you can eat spicy foods without discomfort, they are still linked with more time spent awake during the night and taking longer to fall asleep.  This is probably because of capsaicin, an active ingredient in chili peppers, affecting sleep via changes in body temperature.

 

Fatty Junk Foods

If you don't get enough sleep, you're more likely to crave high-fat, high-sugar foods the next day. But eating a high-fat diet also has influence on your sleep, including leading to more fragmented sleep. The link may be due to the brain chemical hypocretin (also known as Orexin), a neurotransmitter that helps keep you awake and also plays a role in appetite management. Keep in mind that while you should limit your intake of unhealthy fats like those from fried foods, healthy fats (including saturated fats) play an important role in your diet and shouldn't be eliminated.

 

Diet is only one factor in getting a good night sleep. You can read more about other factors here

 

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