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Sleepless in Arkansas, Part 4:  Don’t Eat These

Some foods and drinks keep you from sleeping.  Even though they might be good for you if you eat them early, they will not help you sleep if you eat them late in the day, before you go to bed.

1.  Foods and drinks that contain caffeine.  These include drinks like coffee, Monster, and Red Bull which are not recommended after lunch and especially not close to bedtime.  Foods with dark chocolate are also high in caffeine; they should be avoided late in the day.

2.  Spicy foods.  These can be good for you if you eat them during the day, but eating them close to bedtime is a bad idea.  They may cause heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux, especially when lying down because it allows the acids to get into the esophagus and burn the sensitive lining.

3.  Foods high in fat not only trigger digestive processes, it also causes a build-up of stomach acids which while lying down can creep into the esophagus causing discomfort.  “A high-fat diet also messes with the production of Orexin, one of the neurotransmitters that helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle along with Melatonin.” (For a list of foods with high fat, please see the list below.)

4.  Foods high in protein can also disrupt sleep if eaten too close to bedtime—e.g., no hamburgers or steaks for dinner.  Protein is difficult to digest, and your body will spend more time trying to digest it than sleeping.

5.  Foods containing water such as watermelon and celery are diuretics that help push water through your system.  Eating these kinds of foods and drinking anything too close to bedtime could create what I call “put stops”—getting up to urinate.  Sometimes, it’s difficult to sleep again.

6.  Heavy meals before bedtime.  “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” is a saying I read somewhere and I believe it’s true.  Even eating too much of recommended foods before bed can keep you from sleeping because, again, the body is focused on digestion, not sleeping.   

What if you’re hungry before bed and just want a snack? 

Alaska Sleep says the best light snacks are those that contain tryptophan and calcium—e.g., a bowl of cereal, cheese and crackers, or peanut butter on toast.

(Jennifer Hines, Alaska Sleep Education Center, “Food for Sleep: The Best and Worst Foods for Getting Sleep”.

Foods with Fat

In an article by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD entitled “Fat Shockers: Surprisingly High-Fat Foods” lists foods with high fat.  Here’s her list:

  • Muffins and Coffee Cake Snack Cakes
  • Snack Cakes and Pies
  • Chips and Crackers
  • Cured Meats and Sausage
  • Refrigerated Biscuits, Scones, and Cinnamon Rolls
  • Frozen Desserts
  • Frozen Breakfast Entrees (1 entrée)

In “What Foods Are High in Fat? High-Fat Foods to Avoid,” author Shaziya Allarakka, MD adds these foods:

  1. Red meat (steak) and processed meats (bacon, sausage)
  2. Chicken skin
  3. Butter, margarine, lard
  4. Palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil
  5. Fast foods (burgers, pizza)

(You can read that article HERE.

Till next time,

“Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows.” ~Tzaddi

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