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Can't Sleep? Watch Out for These Foods Before Bedtime

Nourishing Sleep: Steering Clear of Culprits in Your Late-Night Snack Choices

By Ruru H.Published 5 months ago 3 min read
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Can't Sleep? Watch Out for These Foods Before Bedtime
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Meeting the internationally recommended hours of sleep is one of the most common challenges, as figures indicate that 45% of adults in Australia and the United States do not get enough sleep. According to the National Heart and Lung Institute, insomnia and sleep disturbance are linked to chronic health problems such as blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as issues related to mental health, cognition, and concentration. One often overlooked factor in addressing sleep problems is the role of nutrition, particularly the foods consumed before bedtime.

In twilight's hush, choose meals with care,

A dance with dreams awaits, a sleep so rare.

Caffeine's buzz fades, as stars softly gleam,

In mindful bites, find the path to dream.

Spices whisper tales, a culinary song,

But beware their heat, disrupting restful throng.

Glycemic waves in sugary embrace,

Interrupt the lullaby, disturb sleep's grace.

Fatty whispers linger, on the night's still air,

Fried indulgence may beckon, but choose with care.

Salted dreams may ebb, with nocturnal tide,

In mindful slumber, let serenity abide.

Cruciferous whispers, laden with delight,

Yet in the eve's embrace, their fibers might

Delay the dance, the waltz with the night,

Choose wisely, let sleep take gentle flight.

Processed shadows, fast and fleeting,

In sleep's embrace, they find no greeting.

Choose the whispers of night's silent repose,

In mindful bites, let sweet dreams compose.

Caffeine, the Culprit Behind Sleepless Nights

Caffeine, a widely consumed stimulant found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and chocolate, is notorious for disrupting sleep patterns. A 2017 systematic review highlighted that caffeine increases the time it takes to fall asleep and reduces the recommended total sleep time. This stimulant acts on the central nervous system, enhancing alertness and activity, making it a significant obstacle to achieving a restful night's sleep.

The Spiciness Dilemma

Spicy foods, loaded with spices and condiments, can lead to digestive problems such as indigestion, heartburn, and gastrointestinal reflux. Dr. Charlene Gamaldo from Johns Hopkins University explains that consuming spicy foods before bedtime can cause stomach acid to move into the esophagus, hindering the relaxation necessary for sleep. A study from the University of Tasmania found that capsaicin, present in spicy foods, disrupts the body's thermoregulation process, raising core temperature and impeding sleep.

High Glycemic Index Foods: A Recipe for Sleep Disturbance

High glycemic index foods, including refined carbohydrates like white bread, potatoes, ice cream, cakes, and biscuits, can disrupt sleep by causing blood sugar disturbances. A 2019 American study involving over 77,000 women linked high glycemic index foods to insomnia, particularly after menopause. These foods stimulate insulin secretion, leading to hormonal imbalances and intermittent sleep, while also causing inflammation and disrupting beneficial bacteria in the body.

By Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

The Impact of Fatty Foods on Sleep Quality

Consuming foods rich in saturated fats, such as fried chicken and French fries, can adversely affect sleep quality. A 2015 study from Columbia University revealed that participants who had dinner rich in saturated fats experienced more sleep disturbances and nighttime awakenings. To mitigate this, researchers suggested opting for grilling or steaming instead of frying, as it eases the digestive process during sleep.

Salty Fare and Sleep Disruptions

Eating salty foods at night can lead to water retention and dehydration, disrupting sleep patterns. The European Endocrine Society found that individuals consuming salty foods before bedtime, such as salty nuts and potato chips, experienced increased nighttime awakenings.

Cruciferous Vegetables: Nutrient-Rich but Sleep-Disruptive

While cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage provide essential vitamins, their high insoluble fiber content makes them slow to digest. This can lead to a feeling of fullness, which is counterproductive when trying to sleep. Some, like celery, even have diuretic properties, further emphasizing the need to avoid them before bedtime.

Fast and Ultra-Processed Foods: A Detriment to Sleep

Research links diets relying on fast and ultra-processed foods to sleep deprivation. A 2018 Korean study involving over 118,000 teenagers found a correlation between sleep problems and the consumption of such meals. These foods often lack the nutritional value necessary for promoting restful sleep.

In conclusion, being mindful of the foods consumed before bedtime is crucial for achieving a good night's sleep. Avoiding caffeine, spicy and high glycemic index foods, fatty and salty fare, cruciferous vegetables, and fast or ultra-processed foods can significantly contribute to better sleep hygiene. Making informed choices about nighttime nutrition is an essential step towards addressing sleep-related issues and promoting overall well-being.

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About the Creator

Ruru H.

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