More and more people seem to have trouble getting the recommended amount of sleep these days. Even those without sleep disorders struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Something that most people don’t think about when it comes to sleep problems is what they are eating and drinking at dinner and a pre-bedtime snack.
Over 27% of American adults deal with insomnia throughout the year. With the side effects associated with over-the-counter sleep aides, people often look for more natural ways to help them sleep better without those unwanted side effects. One of the things you can do is to watch what you eat.
Although there’s no magic combination of food or drinks that will get you a restful night’s sleep, there are some changes you can make that could help you get the rest you’re looking for. This article will discuss foods that can affect your sleep.
Foods To Avoid Before Bed
Some foods you should avoid before bed include:
- Alcohol — While a nightcap can help you fall asleep initially, it interrupts your natural sleep cycle throughout the night, decreasing the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep you get. Alcohol can also worsen obstructive sleep apnea and cause snoring. Not only that, but alcohol relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle and can cause acid reflux.
- Heavy Foods — Heavy foods such as fried foods or other fatty foods can cause indigestion that can keep you from sleeping. Avoid foods like burgers, french fries, and steaks later in the day.
- Foods With High Water Content — Although staying hydrated during the day is important to your health, it’s important for your sleep to avoid foods with a high water content before bed. Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, and celery contain a high amount of water which can keep you up at night running to the bathroom.
- Hidden Caffeine — There are many foods that contain caffeine that you may not expect. For example, soda and tea contain caffeine (unless labeled otherwise). Chocolate is a stimulant, and some desserts may even contain espresso or coffee. It’s important to check the labels to see if/how much caffeine is in the food or beverage before you eat it.
- Sugar — Sugar affects your insulin levels, which can impact your sleep patterns. When you eat a sugary snack, your blood sugar spikes and then crashes. That’s why you should avoid sweets before bed.
- Foods Rich in Tyramine — Tyramine is an amino acid that causes your brain to release a natural stimulant to facilitate brain activity. When you eat foods like tomatoes, eggplant, soy sauce, and red wine, all of which contain tyramine, sleep can be difficult.
- Spicy Foods — Your body temperature lowers when you fall asleep, so when you ingest hot, spicy foods, you increase your body temperature, making it harder to fall asleep. Spicy foods can also lead to heartburn, making it difficult to sleep.
- Acidic Foods — Acid reflux is a common culprit for sleep problems. Highly acidic foods, like raw onion, white wine, and citrus juices, can worsen acid reflux.
- Foods the Cause Gas — Foods that contain high fiber content can lead to gas that can keep you up at night. While foods like beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and dried fruits are a great healthy addition to your diet, the resulting cramping and pressure from the gas they create makes them a snack you should avoid before bed.
Foods That Can Help You Sleep
No one wants to go to bed hungry. If you need a snack before bed, some options can actually help you sleep. They are nutritious and can positively impact your sleep because they contain tryptophan or raise melatonin or serotonin levels.
- Dairy — Milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt
- Whole-grain bread
- Nuts — Almonds, Walnuts
- Chamomile, passionfruit, and ginger tea
Let DreamZz Sleep Center Help You Get the Sleep You Deserve
While foods can help you sleep, another thing to keep in mind is your sleep environment, which can also have a significant impact on your quality of sleep. Sleeping in a room that is bright and noisy, or if you use electronics in bed, your body’s melatonin production can be affected. Reviewing your sleep practices can allow you to remove distracting elements and incorporate foods that can help you get a more restful night’s sleep.
If you’ve changed your sleep hygiene habits and have changed up the foods you are eating before bed and are still unable to get a good night’s sleep, DreamZz Sleep Center can help. Our physician is fellowship-trained, Sleep Medicine board-certified, and will analyze your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help you get the sleep you deserve.
Contact us today to book an appointment.