After having children I’ve come to understand why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique.
I’m horrible without enough sleep!
Fortunately, I generally sleep very well. If you struggle to get a good night’s rest, here are a few foods you might want to avoid:
Whilst dark chocolate is a better option than milk chocolate, eating dark chocolate late in the evening can affect your chances of a good night’s sleep due to the high caffeine content in some varieties. Some have as much as 25 to 38 percent of the amount of caffeine found in a standard cup of coffee.
All chocolate contains caffeine but as a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it contains.
Solution: lower cacao varieties might be a better evening choice, but remember to stick to a couple of squares.
Fatty high protein foods like steak take longer to digest. Whilst this is great for satiety and keeping you feeling fuller for longer, it can disrupt your Circadian rhythm if eaten close to bedtime.
Solution – eat dinner earlier and limit your portion size so you don’t go to bed on an over-full tummy.
This is one that I have found as I’m getting older – if I over indulge, I might go to sleep really quickly, but I usually wake up in the early hours and toss and turn.
This is because alcohol negatively affects your sleep cycle by reducing the amount of REM sleep which is responsible for helping to repair and restore the mind and body.
Solution – drink in moderation (a glass or two), have a glass of water between drinks and aim for 3 -4 alcohol free nights a week
Spicy food can disrupt a good night’s sleep if you are prone to heartburn. Studies have found that eating spicy food prior to bedtime not only reduces the overall amount of sleep a person gets, but also raise core body temperature, which has been linked to poor sleep quality.
Solution – whole countries like Asia and India can’t be wrong on the spicy stuff but if you aren’t used to spicy food maybe limit how much you have until you build up a resistance to it.
Solution – try a herbal tea such as soothing camomile
Broccoli or cauliflower
Again, this one comes down to timing – eaten too close to bed time, vegetables with high amounts of fibre (i.e. those that are slow to digest) can keep your body working rather than resting while you’re trying to sleep.
The good news is that veggies like broccoli and cauliflower contain tryptophan, which the body produce serotonin and regulates sleep.
Solution – eat dinner earlier
High-fat foods like French fries can keep you from sleeping well. Whilst one or two fries before bed may not affect your sleep, eating a full serving may push your digestive system into overdrive (and don’t forget the heartburn) preventing you from getting a restful night.
Solution – keep these high fat foods as sometimes treats and aim for earlier meal times (again!)