Food and Sleep | What Foods to Avoid Before Bed

Get better sleep during the night when you avoid these types of foods

If you struggle with insomnia, trouble falling asleep, or restlessness during the night you may be searching for things to add to your night routine. Sleep Aids, cooling blankets, meditation can be a few options that many of us incorporate into our nightly routine to curb these pesky side effects. 

While there are many useful things that can be added, what should we look to avoid

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7 Foods that may be disrupting your sleep during the night

We all have dinner, desserts, or night time snacks. But what specific foods should we look to cut from our menu?

 1. Hot Sauce / Curry

Consuming spicy foods during the night is known to cause a few problems with our sleep. For some, spicy dinners may increase your chances of having heartburn. These foods are also known for having high levels of capsaicin, which can elevate your body temperature making it uncomfortable to get a deep restful sleep. Being too hot at night can be agitating and make you feel like you can’t get comfortable.

Spicy foods also require more energy to digest. So when you are looking to add a little extra hot sauce, ginger, pepper, mustard, or other spicy ingredients to your dish, it may be best to scale back during dinner time. 

2. Aged Cheese

Cheese naturally contains high levels of the amino acid, tyramine. This unique amino acid can induce our adrenal gland to spike. Essentially, tyramine is a natural stimulant that increases alertness and brain activity. 

If you are struggling to get drowsy and fall asleep, it is best to stay far away from foods that are considered “Tyramine-Rich.” Other foods include: eggplants, soy sauce, tomatoes, and other aged meats. 

3. Food with Hidden Caffeine

As we all know, caffeine is a stimulant that can wreak havoc on sleep patterns. While you may be staying away from coffee or soda during the night, you may be shocked that there are a few foods and beverages that contain hidden caffeine. 

Best advice here is, read the label. Teas typically continue medium to high caffeine content, unless otherwise noted. 

While chocolate and other desserts are a pleasant treat at night, some may also contain hidden caffeine. So it’s best to indulge in these treats and caffeinated beverages in midday time (in moderation of course)!

4. Ice Cream and Sugary Desserts

The tradition of dessert after dinner has been around for centuries. For the “sweet tooths” reading, it may be the best thing you look forward to all day. 

Unfortunately, sugar naturally causes insulin. High levels of insulin will alert the adrenal gland, causing an increase in cortisol levels. For those of us not wanting too much of a science lesson, it means we will get a “sugar high” of energy. But what comes up, must come down. This yo-yo can really hurt our Slumber

Treat yourself, but make sure it is in moderation. If you are continuing to experience sleep deprivation, it may be time to swap dessert to an earlier time where your body can process the sugar before you need to catch those ZZZ’s. 

5. Salty fries and chips

Delicious dinner sides like fries or crispy potatoes can contain high levels of sodium. While sodium in moderation is okay, higher levels of sodium in our diets can cause dehydration, which can lead to fatigue and sleep impairments. In a European study, published by bioScientifica, increased consumption of sodium-rich foods caused the participants to report an increased disturbance in falling asleep and staying asleep. On average this disturbance lasted 2-3 hours long. 

Thankfully many foods, like potatoes, can be made at home where you can control the sodium that gets put in the dish. Olive oil, herbs, and other spices can pair nicely with many foods and can be a great substitution for salt. Don’t skimp on the flavor, but just watch out for unnecessary salt, as it may cause you a few hours of needed shut-eye. 

6. Alcohol

If you are one that likes to consume adult beverages, high chances are that you consume it during the night. For many, they claim that alcohol actually “helps” them fall asleep faster. But even if you are able to drift off a little faster, it doesn’t mean that your REM sleep will be productive. 

In fact, alcohol is known to interrupt our sleep schedules, and may be the cause of other issues like acid reflux, increased snoring, and sleep apnea. 

7. Too much water (wait, that’s not a food!)

Water is one of the most important things for our body to stay healthy and hydrated. Higher levels of H20 is also naturally many foods like tomatoes, celery, watermelon, cucumbers, etc. If this incredible molecule is so important for health, how did it make the list?

Many people report bladder issues as a primary concern when it comes to sleep. Having to get up in the middle of the night, walking to the bathroom, and trying to get back to your slumber can be frustrating. 

It is always important to be hyper-aware of what you put into your body before bed. Hydrate as necessary, but make sure to relieve yourself before bed and cut down on the amount of water consumed a few hours before bed. 

Other considerations for nighttime success

  •  Be mindful of not eating too late
  • Portion control of many of the foods listed above can be a great starting point
  • Try a plant-based sleep supplement like CBN. Slumber offers a 6-day sleep trial

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