If you find yourself tossing and turning and unable to fall asleep, look no further than your diet for clues about your insomnia. Diet plays a large role in all our systems and bodily functions – sleep included. For example, we all know that coffee is a stimulant, so it keeps us awake and alert. Well, there are other not-so-obvious foods hiding in your diet which could be the very reason you have such a hard time sleeping.
Here is a list of foods you should avoid close to bedtime if you want a good night’s rest.
Wine and other alcohol
It may seem like a good idea to have a glass of wine with dinner or unwind with a beer in front of the TV, but wine and other alcohol can very much keep you from getting a good night’s rest.
Even though alcohol may make you feel sleepy – wine especially – it actually disrupts your sleep stages, making you wake up more tired and groggy than you should. Not only does alcohol promote urination, so you’ll be getting up more frequently to use the bathroom, but it can have you tossing and turning as well.
If you must enjoy a glass of wine or alcohol, enjoy it together with food and stick to one glass only. Additionally, don’t consume alcohol too close before you have to sleep.
Chocolate, even the dark one
We all got really excited when we were told we could enjoy dark chocolate daily for its health benefits, but if you’re having that square close to bedtime it can backfire and keep you awake.
Chocolate, even the heart-friendly dark variety, contains caffeine, which we are all familiar with as the star player in sleep deprivation. You may not believe there’s much caffeine because of all the other ingredients in chocolate, but just 1.55 ounces of milk chocolate contains 12 mg of caffeine – similar to three cups of decaffeinated coffee. Dark chocolate can contain up to 20 mg of caffeine, which is what you’ll find in an espresso.
For better sleep, enjoy your chocolate earlier in the day – maybe during that 3 p.m. crash?
Heavily spiced food
Spicy foods, like chocolate, have many health benefits, but too close before bed and they’ll keep you awake. An Australian study revealed that men who put Tabasco and mustard on their dinner had greater difficulties falling asleep or experiencing a deep sleep. If you want to enjoy spicy foods, save them for lunch and tame down the heat at night.
Chicken and other meat varieties
We all need protein, but it may be wiser to stick with a plant-based protein for dinner and eat the meat variety during the day. Digestion slows down at night, so meat takes much longer to break down. This drawn-out process keeps your body from sleeping as it’s busy digesting your dinner. If you must consume meat at dinner time, try combating it with a carbohydrate.
Food can play a large role in how we sleep, so while avoiding the listed foods above try to stick with the below options for better sleep.
These foods contain chemicals which promote sleep and are easier to digest, so your body can focus more on sleep and less on breaking them down.
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