Sleeplessness is a problem that affects millions of people. Some have trouble falling asleep and others can’t stay asleep. Whether you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, or you wake up in the morning and feel like you haven’t slept at all, there are many reasons for sleeplessness.
One culprit that people often overlook is their diet. With so many different foods to choose from, it’s easy to make choices that leave us feeling groggy, tired, or unproductive during our waking hours.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is known to cause drowsiness and impair judgment. It also can disrupt sleep patterns by causing frequent awakening throughout the night. Avoid alcohol for at least four hours before bedtime or avoid drinking at all if possible.
- Caffeine: You might think that coffee or tea would help you fall asleep, but that’s not the case. Both of these caffeinated drinks can actually keep you awake at night by disrupting your sleep cycle. Caffeine has been shown to interfere with sleep quality and quantity by disrupting levels of adenosine — a chemical that makes you feel sleepy when it builds up in your brain during the day. While coffee is high in caffeine, so are chocolate bars, soda pop and energy drinks.
- Sugar: Eating sugar before bedtime can prevent you from falling asleep or make it difficult for you to stay asleep throughout the night because sugar increases alertness and energy levels. If you need energy in the evening, try eating complex carbohydrates or drinking some green tea instead of sugar or caffeine-laden foods.
- Dairy products: Dairy products contain high levels of calcium and lactose, which can interfere with melatonin production — an important hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Try drinking warm milk before bedtime if it helps you relax, but limit yourself to one glass.