Foods That Keep You Awake
Do you suffer from insomnia? Did you know that there are a number of foods that keep you awake? Yes, food and drink can have an effect on your sleep. Research is showing that what you eat or don’t eat can affect your sleep. Your sleep habits can have a strong effect on your health and wellness, as well as your mental acuity during the day. So to get a good nights sleep and stay healthy, there are foods that keep you awake that you should avoid before bedtime.
Foods That Keep You Awake
There are certain foods that can contribute to insomnia when eaten close to bedtime. These foods can especially affect those with gastrointestinal issues like acid reflux, heartburn, and irritable bowel syndrome. They can increase acid production that can cause problems when you lie down to sleep. These foods include:
- spicy foods
- any other greasy foods
- sugar and sweet foods
- caffeinated drinks
- large amounts of any liquids
Spicy and greasy foods can irritate those with heartburn and acid reflux. Tomatoes are also acidic and so can add to the acid produced by the stomach for digestion. Sugar and sweets will raise your blood sugar levels and can interfere with getting to sleep. Large amounts of liquids can make you wake up during the night to visit the bathroom, inturrupting your sleep.
Stimulants To Avoid
In addition to the foods that can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, you should also avoid stimulants in the late afternoon and evening. Having a late afternoon or after dinner cup of coffee can introduce stimulant effects that last well into the night. As with the coffee after dinner, strong tea and colas contain caffeine too, so it is best to avoid them too close to bedtime as well. Chocolate also contains caffeine so you want to avoid large amounts of chocolate in the evening before going to bed. In addition eating a lot of sugar or refined grains before bed will raise the blood sugar level and stimulate you so that you may have a hard time falling asleep. Yes, that huge slice of chocolate cake right before bed is not in any way going to help you sleep!
Sleep and Weight Gain
Since we are talking about sugar and that huge slice of chocolate cake I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the link between sleep and weight. Multiple studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can contribute to weight gain. Have you been sticking to your diet religiously and still don’t seem to be losing any weight? Your sleep habits may be to blame. Well, and that huge piece of chocolate cake! A large scale, long term study on sleep and weight gain found that even reducing calories was not able to offset the weight gain associated with lack of sleep. It is thought that a lack of sleep can affect metabolism. Lack of sleep can leave you more stressed as well. When you are stressed your body produces the stress hormone Cortisol. Cortisol contributes to weight gain in your abdomen by storing fat there, and it can also make you feel hungry.
Other Things To Avoid
- Alcohol- Many people like to have a nightcap before bed. Unfortunately alcohol, although it has a sedative effect, does not help you sleep. Alcohol is broken down in the body into metabolites that contribute to the hangover symptoms you experience when you consume too much. Alcohol also has a diuretic effect. So it makes you need to get up and go to the bathroom during the night. Beer is especially known to have this effect because users usually consume much more liquid than users of hard liquor.
- Too much salt- Salt initially causes you to retain water, but as the kidneys work to process and eliminate the excess salt from your body it also causes you to have to go to the bathroom. The old saying in medicine is “water follows salt”. So as the salt is digested the body retains water. As the salt is excreted in the urine, the body also excretes the water.
What You Should Eat Instead
- Foods high in magnesium- Magnesium is crucial to nerve function and can relax muscles. Foods high in magnesium include almonds, seeds, dark leafy greens, beans and legumes, salmon and most whole grains. You can also take a magnesium supplement about 1 hour before bedtime to help with sleep. The recommended dosage is 400mg. Magnesium supplements can be purchased in easy to swallow gel capsules. Magnesium supplements will help promote relaxation and may help you get to sleep.
- Whole grains and complex carbohydrates are said to help stimulate serotonin in the brain, which has a calming effect.
- Raw honey has natural sugars but it also has been thought to promote sleep, and some say it even helps with weight loss.
- Plain yogurt is high in calcium, and calcium is also important for muscle relaxation. Calcium also helps with melatonin production. Melatonin is the sleep hormone produced in the brain when it becomes dark to stimulate sleep.
Now that you have a better idea of the foods that keep you awake you can change your habits to avoid them to see if they help with your sleep habits. Good sleep is not only important for your physical health, but it affects your mental well being as well. Try cutting out these foods that keep you awake and enjoy a better nights sleep and reap the health benefits.