If you’re struggling to get to sleep at night, it might be because of your diet. While sleeplessness is sometimes caused by fatigue, shifting work schedules and jet lag, it can also be caused by certain foods and beverages that are rich in stimulants, protein or fat. Here’s a closer look at some foods and drinks that will make it harder for you to sleep and keep you up at night.
Because of its high caffeine content, drinking coffee will stimulate your nervous system, and drinking it near your bedtime will make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Caffeine can also remain in your system for up to 12 hours after being consumed, so it’s a good idea to limit your daily intake of coffee. Restricting your caffeine consumption to 200 to 300 mg of caffeine a day will allow you to enjoy a few cups of coffee in the morning and restful sleep at night. If you are seeking a hot beverage at night, chamomile tea will warm you up and help you fall asleep.
A bowl of ice cream before bed is a bad idea because it’s so high in fat. The high fat content that makes ice cream so rich and creamy also makes it difficult for our bodies to digest. While your body is busy breaking down the frozen dessert, it won’t achieve the level of relaxation it needs for you to fall asleep. If you’re craving a sweet and creamy dessert at night, eat a cup of some non-fat yogurt.
While it might seem counterintuitive, having a nightcap will actually make it harder for you to sleep, not easier. All alcoholic beverages, whether they are beer, liquor or wine, has a depressive effect on our nervous system. A glass of wine may help you fall asleep, but as your body processes the alcohol and begins to crave more, you’ll find yourself waking up in the middle of the night. As it is loaded with amino acids and tryptophan, a glass of warm milk can help ensure that you sleep the whole night through.
No matter what form it is prepared in, chicken should generally be avoided as a late-night meal. While not as high in fat as red meat, chicken is still a source of dense protein that your system will have to spend an extended period of time digesting. In addition to being relatively easy to digest, bananas can also help you sleep as they are a good source of potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6, which the body converts into tryptophan during digestion.
Because both red meat and cheese are very high in fat, eating a cheeseburger before bed is a recipe for a sleepless night. After eating a burger, your body will increase its production of stomach acid to digest all the fat. Consequently, all that excess stomach acid can get into your esophagus, which will cause you to feel heartburn. A bowl of oatmeal would serve as a much better evening meal as it won’t aggravate your gastrointestinal system and will also raise your blood sugar level enough to make you sleepy.
While small doses of dark chocolate have been found to promote good heart health, it does not have a positive impact on your ability to get a good night’s rest. This is due to dark chocolate’s high caffeine content. A regular size Hershey dark chocolate candy bar has about 20 mg of caffeine in it. That’s almost as much as a can of Coca-Cola Classic. A handful of almonds is a better late night snack than dark chocolate, as almonds are full of sleep inducing magnesium or tryptophan.
Depending on the brand, a 12 ounce can of soda can be packed with as much as 70 mg of caffeine. Additionally, many sodas are rich in sodium benzoate, which can aggravate the gastrointestinal tract and, over time, can lead to the development of sleeplessness-inducing acid reflux. A smoothie made with bananas, almond butter, soy and almond milk will both fill you up and allow you to drift off to sleep peacefully.
While delicious, curry is a terrible food to eat before bed. The combination of the different spices that makes curry so flavorful also makes it aggravating to our gastrointestinal systems. It’s also worth noting that certain kinds of curry are rich in hard to digest fats. Because it contains large amounts of tryptophan, hummus can ease you to sleep while also quelling your hunger.
Energy drinks have a negative impact on your sleep in the same way that sodas do, only to a much greater degree. An 8 ounce can of Red Bull has about 80 mg of caffeine in it while a bottle of Five Hour Energy drink has a full 200 mg of caffeine per 2 ounce bottle. If you had a few energy drinks earlier in the day, a glass of coconut water before bed is a good idea. Its high magnesium content will help you sleep and its rehydrating properties will keep you from waking up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water.
Although their high content of vitamin C makes them an excellent addition to any diet, citrus fruits should be avoided near bedtime. The citrus in oranges, clementines, grapefruits, tangerines, lemons and kumquats will cause your stomach to produce excessive amounts of acid that will make it very difficult for you to sleep. On the other hand, cherries will actually help you fall asleep. The aromatic stone fruit is rich in melatonin, which can help regulate your sleep cycle over time.