When you become a parent, sleep becomes precious. Though that elusive eight hours of slumber may now be a thing of the past, there are ways you can avoid insomnia by simply watching what you eat before bedtime.
Curbing caffeine consumption in the evenings is a good place to start to keep insomnia at bay. But here are more types of food, aside from caffeine-rich ones, which you should eat less of at dinner.
Insomnia-causing foods to avoid
Spicy food does have health benefits, such as weight loss, improved heart function, lower blood pressure, decreased risk of cancer and better mood balance. But a study published in the International Journal of Psychology found that spicy or peppery food can upset your stomach, causing you to stay up late.
Though a light snack before bed has been known to allay insomnia, too much of it can keep you up at night.
Since the glucose (blood sugar) in our bodies affects our energy levels, consuming carbohydrates late at night can keep you from dozing off.
Red meat, and other protein-rich food, tends to be digested slowly. So it can also cause insomnia.
You can always go for protein alternatives like yogurt or turkey breast – still in moderation, of course.
Sugary food and drinks
If you have a sweet tooth, you might want to save indulging for the daytime.
Sweets such as cookies, ice cream, and chocolate cake can elevate blood sugar levels, keeping you awake at night.
The National Institute of Health also found that certain fruits high in fructose (mangoes and watermelons) and foods with double sugars (grains and starchy vegetables) can mess up sleep patterns.
Even seemingly low sugar desserts like dark chocolate can cause insomnia. This is because dark chocolate has caffeine and stimulants that raise your heart rate.
Fermented and cultured food
Fermented food like kimchi, brie cheese, and other aged food contain histamine, which can elevate adrenaline. Adrenaline is also known as the “fight or flight” hormone.
Fermented food might not directly cause lack of sleep, but it can greatly contribute to it, especially if you’re already struggling with insomnia. Try to avoid cold cuts, or anything cured and smoked at dinner time.
Greasy, fried food
Food that is high in fat and oils is not digested easily. It takes time. So if you’re tempted to grab a pizza before hitting the sack, try not to.
Not only that, tomato sauce and cheese can raise acidity levels and put you at risk of heartburn, a bothersome condition that will make falling asleep even more difficult.
Though alcohol is a depressant, it is known to disrupt normal sleep patterns.
Drinking too much may send you straight to sleep, but alcohol can cause you to wake up randomly throughout the night.
If you do need a late night snack, try:
- Porridge made with milk and a chopped banana
- A slice of toast with peanut butter
- Wholemeal pita bread with hummus
- A glass of warm milk (The tryptophan in milk never fails!)
If you have had trouble sleeping, try to evaluate your nightly routine and your diet. This will help you to get a better picture of what you need to change to finally get the rest you deserve.
As always, consult your doctor (and do not self-medicate!) if none of these natural interventions work.