Do you dread bedtime because you spend hours tossing and turning? If you have difficulty falling asleep, or difficulty getting back to sleep,or wake up exhausted every morning, your diet may be to blame.
The nine foods often associated with insomnia include:
- Sugar and sweet foods
- Caffeinated drinks
- Large amounts of any liquids
- Any greasy foods
- Spicy foods
Researchers have now found that tossing and turning at night may have more to do with your digestive system than with your head. The US-based Mayo Clinic has found a link between insomnia and gastrointestinal disorders, including indigestion, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
These other reasons why some people don’t sleep well are well-documented:
- Stress and anxiety
- Chronic disorders, including sleep disorders
- Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol
- Lack of exercise
What you eat, how much you eat and, most importantly, when you eat, may all contribute to the quality of your sleep, say researchers. Heavy eating, especially during the holiday season, can cause indigestion and heartburn. Try to slow down on greasy, sweet or spicy foods and avoid heavy meals close to bedtime.
Foods to avoid
Foods that are best avoided by those who have difficulty sleeping, include bacon, cheese, sugar, ham and tomatoes, among others. These foods contain an amino acid called tyramine, which releases a substance that stimulates the brain and keeps you awake.
Foods that help you sleep
The old remedy for sleeplessness, namely a glass of milk, does actually help. The reason for this, scientists say, is that milk contains an ingredient called tryptophan, which helps the body to produce melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps you sleep.
Honey, turkey, egg whites and tuna also contain tryptophan and are recommended as late-night snacks for insomniacs.
Then, of course, there are those foods, drinks and stimulants that are more or less guaranteed to keep you from having a good night’s sleep:
- Stimulants like caffeine (cola, chocolate, coffee). Caffeine is best avoided two to six hours before bed time.
- Nicotine. Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant, so smoking before bed time isn’t recommended.
- Alcohol. The tradition of a ”nightcap” before bed time also causes sleepless nights. Alcohol is a sedative, so you’ll probably sleep better for an hour or so. However, specialists warn that the body processes alcohol quickly, so the effect soon wears off. This means remaining rest can be fragmented. You’ll wake up frequently. It’s best to avoid alcohol for at least two hours before retiring.
- Other fluids. Avoid drinking too much of anything shortly before bed time as doing so increases the likelihood that you’ll have to get up during the night to urinate.