Millions of Americans today are complaining of insomnia and sleep related disorders. To some extent our fast paced, stress packed, busy lifestyles maybe responsible for this. But it’s important to know that there are other contributing factors to insomnia too including our diet.
While we are all familiar with the usual culprits, tea and coffee, the list doesn’t end here. There are a lot more foods and drinks that also steal our sleep and it’s good to know the lesser known sleep-stealers which can rob you off a good night’s sleep.
Here are some toxic foods that are affecting your sleep.
Alcohol is the number one sleep-stealer after tea and coffee but the irony is that a lot of people use it as a sleeping aid. According to research, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, but the important thing to understand is that it limits rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, resulting in poor quality disrupted sleep. The more you drink before bed, the more pronounced these effects. You will wake up refreshed and energetic after a good night’s rest but if your sleep is disrupted you will wake up tired and groggy even after staying for 7-8 hours in bed so alcohol is essentially a sleep-stealer.
You may have heard that milk and dairy products are great sleep inducers but hold on, not all of them. Ice cream maybe categorized as a dairy product but the loads of sugars in it are enough to keep you up at night.
Cheese and crackers could be a perfect sleep inducing bedtime snack as long as your cheese isn’t aged. Yep, aged cheese is a killer for sleep because it contains tyramine, an amino acid that triggers the brain to release nor-epinephrine, a stimulant that boosts brain activity and delays sleep. So eat as much cheese as you want before bedtime as long as it’s not Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, and other hard cheeses.
Many people are used to watching their coffee consumption in the later parts of the day but forget that just like tea and coffee, cola drinks are also loaded with caffeine and are similarly bad for sleep. It’s hard to resist chugging down large glasses of coke with your yummy pizza but keep in mind that this is enough to keep you counting sheep in bed. We don’t know exactly how much caffeine content is in a cola drink but the FDA limit is 71 milligrams per 12 fluid ounces. According to Timothy Rothers, director of research at the Sleep Disorders and Research Center of the Henry Ford Research Center, as little as 30 milligrams of caffeine may disrupt your sleep cycle. The interesting thing to note is that the effects of caffeine can last for up to 5 hours in our body. Apart from caffeine cola drinks are also packed with sugars, another sleep-stealer.
It should come as no surprise that energy drinks disrupts sleep; after all it’s an energy drink loaded with caffeine and sugars. They are actually worse than cola drinks and even tea, coffee because they can not only wreak havoc on your sleep cycle but can also cause you to feel anxious, jittery and exhausted at the same time.
You may have heard meat to be good for sleep because it’s not true for processed meats. They’re actually bad for your sleep because they contain high levels of tyramine. So stay away from sausages, meat loaves and other forms of processed meat.
Tomatoes are in the sleep-stealer list because they are also rich in tyramine. In addition to that they also have a tendency to cause heartburn and acid reflux, which can disrupt your sleep.
According to endocrinologist Caroline Apovian, director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center eating grapefruit before can cause heartburn. So just like tomatoes it’s best to avoid grapefruits before bed to avoid any heartburn or acid reflux problems.
Having spicy chicken wings or spicy pizza while watching your favorite shows in the evening might seem like a good idea but only if you plan to stay up at night. Eating a heavy, spice-laden meal before bed can result in heartburn, which can disturb your sleep.
Everybody’s raving about how herbal teas are the best solution for insomniacs. While it’s true there are also certain herbal teas that do just the opposite of sleeping aids. One such herbal tea is ginseng tea, which is known to act as a stimulant and cause insomnia and hypertension in some people.
So the next time you complain of a bad night, re-check your dinner diet to see if you’re not having any of these sleep-stealers.
About the Author
Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. Read his post on Sleep & Health . You can follow him on twitter @eugenegabrielj.