If you’re experiencing insomnia and having difficulties trying to fall asleep and/or if you’re waking up in the middle of the night, avoid eating these foods close to bedtime:
Sugar and foods with high sugar content
Sugar increases blood-sugar levels and can cause a spike of energy that disrupts your sleep. Low blood sugar is one of the major causes of nighttime waking.
For example, eating a dessert loaded with sugar in the evening will crank up blood sugar levels just before bed. You might fall asleep without a problem, but later in the night when blood sugar levels plummet, your body will wake you up, alerting you to this chemical imbalance.
Refined carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates that have gone through a process that removes the bran and germ from whole grain. This gives foods a smoother consistency and lengthens shelf life, but it also strips away important nutrients, like Vitamin B, iron and fiber which all aid in the process of sleep.
Just like sugar, these processed carbs are quickly digested causing an intense rise in blood sugar accompanied by a crash.
Look for the words “whole wheat” or “whole grain” on the label to make sure these foods are not made from refined grains (white flour).
Limit the following refined carbohydrates in your diet:
- White breads
- Most crackers
- White rice
- Most packaged cereals
- Potato chips
- Sweet tea
- Sweet wine
- Sweetened fruit juice
- Canned or frozen fruit and vegetables containing sugar
Foods that cause gas and heartburn
Stay away from foods that can produce gas or heartburn, such as foods that are spicy or high in fat, foods with a lot of garlic (especially fresh garlic), foods with rich and heavy sauces and foods with too many ingredients. Also, avoid major gas producing foods like:
- Brussels sprouts
- Green peppers
- Dried fruit
Spicy foods and foods containing tomatoes, onions and citrus fruits may wake you up at night with heartburn, acid reflux or indigestion.
When you go to bed after eating a spicy meal, you are especially prone to experience one or all of these conditions since lying down can cause the food or liquid in your stomach to flow backwards into your esophagus (the tube that leads from your mouth to your stomach). This reaction can aggravate the esophagus, creating heartburn and other symptoms.
High fat foods
High fat foods take a long time to digest, can feel heavy in your stomach and potentially cause heartburn.
Here are some of the more common high fat offenders:
- White sauces
- Cheese Sauces
- Ricotta cheese
- Pot pies
- Beef and pork ribs
- Potato and macaroni salad
- Potatoes Au Gratin
- Hash browns
- Ice cream
- Chocolate candy
- Processed Meats (Sausage and Pâté)
From burgers, corn dogs, fries, onion rings and milk shakes to tacos, nachos, chicken and even fish sandwiches – they’re all a festival of high fat, refined carbs and sugar! If you’re going to eat this stuff, try not to eat it too late in the evening.
High protein foods
Beef, pork, lamb and certain other high protein foods are difficult to digest and can prevent sleep by inhibiting the production of serotonin, therefore causing you to feel alert.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
MSG is often found in most fast food, condiments, processed food, lunch meats, soup mixes, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, flavored chips, and chinese food. MSG can create a stimulant reaction and headaches in many individuals.
Tobacco and nicotine
Yes, not really a food, but I’ve included it in this article anyway. All tobacco products are neurostimulants. Even though smoking might seem to calm you down, nicotine is a stimulant that can cause insomnia.
Alcohol is responsible for many sleep related problems. Shallow sleep, frequent awakenings and dehydration are a few of the related symptoms caused by the release of adrenaline and disrupted serotonin levels.
Everybody has a different level of sensitivity to caffeine’s stimulant effects. This is due to the varying rate at which the body eliminates this compound. If you’re having difficulties getting to sleep, stay away from these products containing caffeine (or at least cease consumption before the evening):
- Cola and some other soft drinks
- Energy drinks
- Certain prescription and over the counter medications
Processed foods like bacon, sausage and ham contain additives and preservatives, which can promote sleep difficulties in sensitive individuals.
Too Much Liquid
Drinking too much fluid in the evening can cause you to repeatedly wake up because of a full bladder, resulting in numerous trips to the bathroom during the night.
Avoid drinking liquids at least 90 minutes before bedtime.
I know this article seems like a real buzz kill, but it may only be one substance that is creating your insomnia. By looking at your eating and drinking habits with a critical eye, you’ll be the best judge to figure out where the problem lies and be on your way to getting peaceful and rejuvenating sleep.
For healthy eating and evening snack alternatives, read: Diet and Insomnia – Foods to Help you Sleep.
Other insomnia related articles:
Types of Insomnia
Top Causes of Insomnia
How to go to Sleep – 48 Tips to Help Cure your Insomnia
Allergies and Insomnia
Should you use Antihistamines for Insomnia?
Aromatherapy for Insomnia – It makes Scents
Acupressure for Insomnia – Getting to the point
The Benefits of Using Acupuncture for Insomnia
Menopause and Insomnia
Meditation to Help Cure Insomnia
Hypnosis for Insomnia
Children and Insomnia
Alcohol and Insomnia
Twelve Tips to Prevent the Effects of Jet Lag
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