Can’t seem to sleep through the night? Do you sometimes feel exhausted instead of rested in the morning or brain fog in the afternoon the next day? Well, you are not alone. Sleeplessness, sleep disruptions, and other potentially chronic sleep problems are pretty common, but they don’t have to be. What you may not know is that what you eat and drink may be the culprit.
Here are 9 foods that can wreak havoc on your quality and quantity of sleep!
1. Fatty Foods
High-fat foods and fried foods take longer to digest and are extremely inflammatory to the digestive system, interfering with sleep. Furthermore, they can cause GI distress and heartburn that can wake you at night or cause enough discomfort to make falling asleep difficult.
Tomatoes are a known inflammatory food, meaning they promote inflammation and irritation in your digestive system. Tomatoes are also rich in tyramine, an amino acid that triggers the brain to release norepinephrine, a stimulant that boosts brain activity and alertness, which is obviously not ideal for sleep.
Though alcohol is a depressant and slows down cognitive function, just one glass of wine is enough to disrupt sleep later in the night. Studies have shown that alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but it negatively affects your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle and your SWS (slow wave deep sleep) so you get less restful sleep.
4. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Beans, Chili, and Other High-Fiber Foods
Roughage like broccoli and cauliflower contain tryptophan, which is the most important amino acid in the sleep process. It is used to synthesize niacin (a B vitamin), serotonin (a neurotransmitter) and melatonin (a hormone that regulates your circadian cycle), all of which promote sleep. So good so far, however, eating these high-fiber foods too close to bedtime can keep your body working to digest them long after you are in bed. High-fiber foods such as beans and spicy foods like chili can also cause heartburn, gas and belly bloat, all of which can further disrupt sleep. Studies have found that eating spicy food prior to bedtime not only reduces the overall amount of sleep a person gets but also raises core body temperature, which has been linked to poor sleep quality. So play it safe and eat your favorite combination of these foods at least four to five hours before bed.
5. Chocolate, Coffee, and Tea
We all know caffeine stimulates the mind and body to be more alert, but did you know dark chocolate has 25-38% of the amount of caffeine found in one cup of coffee? In fact, all chocolates, even milk chocolates, contain caffeine, but typically the darker the chocolate - the more caffeine it contains. Speaking of caffeine, contrary to popular belief, decaffeinated coffee also contains enough caffeine to disrupt sleep, particularly for those who are sensitive to caffeine. Teas that claim to be caffeine-free can also do the same. Make sure you read labels on all teas before you consume them.
6. Dessert and Sweet Sauces
Research shows that people with elevated blood sugar levels could have trouble sleeping. Dessert foods that contain large amounts of sugar can make you feel energized and awake no matter what time it is.
Sweet sauces are also a possible culprit in sleep disruption – one that very few people consider. Sweet sauces such as salad dressings, ketchup, barbeque sauce, steak sauce, mayonnaise, pasta sauce, yogurt, and caramel drizzle can all have large amounts of hidden sugar. It pays to be mindful when consuming sauces, so make sure you always read the label.
7. High Protein and Fat Foods - Steak
Eating high protein foods too close to bedtime can take hours to digest. It stresses your digestive system more than carbs. Because most high protein animal products are often high in fat, they can also be inflammatory and cause GI issues and heartburn. Protein-rich foods are also known for releasing amino acids into the bloodstream. When amino acids such as tyrosine flood the body, they are quickly used to synthesize stimulants such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, and also thermogenic thyroid hormones. They keep the brain active and increase the body’s metabolic rate – two things you don’t want at bedtime. These functions can disrupt sleep and prevent relaxing tryptophan from reaching the brain.
Though full of vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin C and potassium, they are very acidic and eating them before bedtime can cause acid reflux and heartburn. Opt for this fruit in the morning instead of eating it after dinner.
Though crunchy and satisfying, celery and other foods with extremely high water content like cucumbers, watermelon, and radishes are natural diuretics that cause you to wake in the middle of the night with a full bladder, disrupting your quality sleep.
So what can you eat?
Try These Foods and Supplements:
a. Foods with good sources of tryptophan, which will enhance your body’s serotonin and melatonin production, are walnuts, cherries, eggs, salmon, and turkey.
b. Try a supplement with bioactive milk peptides to trigger sleepiness naturally. Bioactive milk peptides are a natural nutritional compound that is lactose-free, sleep-inducing, calming, and promotes healthy sustained sleep patterns.
c. If you take a melatonin sleep supplement, make sure it has no more than 3 mg of melatonin – just the right amount to get your sleep cycle back on track. Melatonin is the key hormone for sleep, which is naturally produced once your eyes are shut and it is dark.