There are lots of things we can do to get better sleep, and one has to do with things we eat and drink in the hours leading up to bedtime. Our Guest Geek today is sleep expert Jennifer Hardy, and she’s going to share five types of food and drink to avoid before bedtime so you can rest better and get a good night’s sleep.
5 Sleep Wrecking Foods to Avoid Before Bed
Have you ever had trouble falling asleep? It’s a common and frustrating problem that can lead to near-sleepless nights and fatigue the next day. There are many factors that can cause sleeplessness, but there are also some foods that can hinder sleep, but diet is also a factor. Let’s look at some common foods and eating habits that can worsen insomnia.
Alcohol can disrupt your sleep. Alcohol can cause you to wake up during the night and make it difficult to fall asleep in the first place. There are a few ways that alcohol can cause or worsen insomnia. First, alcohol is a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, both of which can disrupt sleep.
Second, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which can cause drowsiness at first but can lead to insomnia later as it wears off. Finally, alcohol can interfere with the body’s natural sleep cycles, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you’re struggling with insomnia, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether.
According to the Sleep Foundation, even modest alcohol use can reduce sleep quality by 9.3%, while heavy alcohol use can decrease sleep quality by 39%. Resist the urge to sip a nightcap if you value your sleep.
Sugar can cause fluctuations in your blood sugar, leading to insomnia and weight gain, but it can also make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. When you consume sugar, your brain releases dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate pleasure and reward in the brain. Dopamine helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. However, too much dopamine can have the opposite effect and make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
In addition, sugar can also cause spikes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to restless nights. Your blood sugar rises when you consume sugar and drops precipitously. This drop triggers hormones, like epinephrine, that cause you to awaken from sleep or have trouble drifting off to sleep. So, avoid sugar and ultra-processed carbohydrates before bedtime, including boxed cereals, foods made with white bread, and soft drinks.
Caffeine is a stimulant. It can help you stay alert and awake, but it also has a negative effect on your sleep cycle in many ways. For example, caffeine can disrupt the natural progression of your sleep cycle by making it difficult to fall asleep and promoting restless sleep.
Experts recommend reducing caffeine intake after 2:00 p.m. to avoid a negative impact on sleep. This includes coffee, tea, energy drinks, and soft drinks. Caffeine can also make you feel less rested when you wake up in the morning.
Many people crave spicy foods. If you’re one of those people, you love to feel the burn of capsaicin creeping up your throat and down into your stomach–but did you know that this sensation can keep you awake?
The heat from spicy foods can cause heartburn and indigestion, which will only make it harder for you to fall asleep. In addition, spicy foods can trigger the release of adrenaline, which can further disrupt sleep.
And if you have ulcers or gastritis (inflammation in the lining of the stomach), adding spice to an already irritated gut is a recipe for sleeplessness! If you find that spicy foods disrupt your sleep, it is best to avoid them in the evening and stick to milder fare.
Heavy meals can disrupt sleep by causing indigestion and heartburn. Foods high in fat and acid can aggravate these conditions and make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Eating a light evening meal and avoiding spicy and fatty foods before bed can help minimize these problems and promote better sleep. The best time to eat is at least two hours before bedtime. If you are hungry, have a small snack, such as an apple or a glass of milk.
Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand the connection between your diet and insomnia. If you have persistent insomnia after changing your diet, see your doctor. There are a variety of health issues that make it harder to sleep, such as sleep apnea. If you still can’t sleep you may need a better pillow that stays cool, and adjusts to your natural sleep style, like the Sleepgram pillow.
Jennifer Hardy, SleepingBetter.co
Jennifer is a stay-at-home mom with 2 kids, who is an active contributor to SleepingBetter.co. She has been researching sleep science for years and is all about creating the perfect sleep sanctuary for herself because she knows how powerful good sleep can be on your health and beauty. She loves reviewing everything from comfortable pillows to the best mattresses.
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