Having Trouble Sleeping? Stop Eating This Food Right Now

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When creating an ideal sleeping environment, you might think of lighting, temperature, and sound — but what about food? What you eat during the day can have a surprising impact on how well you sleep at night, according to experts.

“Food choice is an essential consideration for ensuring good sleep quality. Some types of food promote sleep while others may cause sleep disruption,” Dr. Chelsie Rohrscheib, head sleep expert at Wesper, a sleep analysis company in New York, told Fox News Digital.

Signs that Food is Interfering with Sleep

If after eating you’re struggling to fall asleep, waking up often during the night or experiencing heartburn, acid reflux, or indigestion, your food choices could be the culprit, according to Dr. Raj Dasgupta, chief medical adviser at Sleepopolis in California.

Other warning signs include experiencing restlessness or stomach discomfort, needing more frequent bathroom breaks at night, or waking up feeling groggy or unrested.

“Having intense dreams or nightmares or noticing changes in your usual sleep routine” are other indications that food could be interfering with sleep, Dasgupta said.

Best Foods to Deal With Trouble Sleeping

Foods that encourage better sleep include meals with a good amount of lean protein, meals that are high in fiber, and meals that are rich in complex carbohydrates, according to Rohrscheib.

“This food combination keeps us feeling full and satisfied throughout the night and prevents us from waking up from hunger,” she said.

“Paying attention to these cues can help you figure out if certain foods or drinks are messing with your sleep quality, so you can make adjustments as needed for better rest,” he said.

Foods containing dairy are especially beneficial, she said, because they contain tryptophan, an amino acid that is essential for the production of serotonin and melatonin, two chemicals needed for sleep. Bananas can also help promote sleep, according to Dasgupta.

“They contain magnesium and tryptophan, which can help you relax and boost production of sleep-inducing hormones,” he told Fox News Digital.  Almonds also provide magnesium for muscle relaxation; they contain protein and healthy fats to keep blood sugar levels stable, he said. 

“Cherries contain natural melatonin, potentially helping to regulate your sleep-wake cycles,” Dasgupta said. Oatmeal is also a sleep-friendly food. 

“Its complex carbohydrates increase serotonin levels, while its melatonin content helps to regulate sleep,” said Dasgupta.

As we all hear around Thanksgiving time, turkey is rich in tryptophan, facilitating the production of serotonin and melatonin, Dasgupta noted. 

“Kiwi is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and serotonin, all of which support sleep pattern regulation,” he said.

Dasgupta also recommends eating Greek yogurt to promote improved sleep, as its calcium content assists in the body’s use of tryptophan for melatonin production, while its protein helps maintain blood sugar levels.

Finally, warm milk, with its tryptophan content and comforting warmth, can help you relax” for a good night’s sleep, he said. Those who are lactose-intolerant can opt for warm almond milk.

Foods That Can Disrupt Sleep

Some foods are more likely to cause indigestion and heartburn, which makes it difficult to fall asleep and maintain sleep, according to Rohrscheib.

“This includes foods with high fat or acid content, foods containing caffeine, or spicy foods,” she said. Greasy or heavy meals take longer to digest, which can leave you feeling uncomfortable and disrupt your sleep, he advised. 

Caffeine is also a common culprit in sleep disruption — experts recommend avoiding it in the hours leading up to bedtime.

“It’s best to abstain from alcohol as well,” Dasgupta said. “While it might seem like a nightcap, it messes with your sleep cycles, leading to worse sleep quality.”

Highly processed foods and foods containing high amounts of sugar cause a quick spike in glucose levels and increase the risk of a “blood sugar crash,” also known as hypoglycemia, Rohrscheib warned. 

When we’re hypoglycemic, our brain will attempt to wake us up to eat more food to normalize our blood glucose levels,” she said. “Thus, these foods should be avoided before bedtime.


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