Wednesday, October 8, 2014
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO SLEEP BETTER AT NIGHT
I bet you already know that drinking coffee, coke or energy drinks in the evening will keep you awake at night.
But are there any other less popular additions to your diet that may be causing the constant tossing and turning?
Can perhaps drinking a decaf coffee or eating bacon interfere with your good night’s sleep?
You bet they can! Just read this list of 7 foods and drinks that may be causing your insomnia to find out!
Foods that will Keep You Wide-Eyed
Mmm, we all love chocolate don’t we? It’s not only tasty, but in moderate amounts it can be very healthy thanks to its high anti-oxidant content. Generally the darker the chocolate the more anti-oxidants it has.
However, dark chocolate is not only rich in anti-oxidants. Surprisingly, it is also rich in caffeine. A bar of dark chocolate can contain as much caffeine as a can of red bull. Try sleeping after that one!
I am not saying that you have to abandon all chocolate if you want to sleep better; all I’m saying is that you need to be careful when you eat it. Depending on body weight and size, the effects of caffeine may last for up to 4 to 6 hours.
This means that it may be best to skip the chocolate in the evening.
Unfortunately decaf coffee is not as decaf as you would expect. A study conducted in 2007 discovered that most decaf coffees offered in coffee shops can actually contain enough caffeine to interfere with your sleeping patterns.
This is especially true for the decaf offered in Dunkin’ Donuts, which, according to the study had as much caffeine as a 12 ounce bottle of Coke. This may not be enough to keep you up all night but it may very well prevent you from going into the most important deep REM (rapid eye movement) stages of your sleep.
The result of this will be the familiar groggy feeling upon waking up and low energy levels throughout the entire day. This means that you may want to substitute the decaf for a chamomile tea as it has a very soothing effect on the nervous system and will definitely help you sleep better.
All preserved and smoked meats like salami, bacon and sausage may prevent you from sleeping because they contain high amounts of the amino acid tyramine, which promotes the secretion of norepinephrine – a brain stimulant.
This stimulant causes high alertness and inability to sleep. Other foods that contain tyramine are nuts, red wine and soy sauce.
Foods High in Fats
Different researches show that eating high fat foods like the ones people normally consume in sports bars and fast food restaurants not only lead to weight gain but can also be a cause for insomnia.
According to one study conducted at the federal university of Sao Paolo (Brazil), the high fat diet had 3 particular negative effects on sleep.
First, it made subjects wake up more often during the night. Second, it increased the chance of abnormal breathing. Third, they spent less time in the most beneficial stage of sleeping- REM (this is when your body is rejuvenated, and determines how you’ll feel during the next day).
Salt and High Sodium Foods
Foods that are high in sodium increase blood pressure and heart rate. Both will give you a hard time sleeping. In fact, in order to fall asleep your blood pressure needs to be lowered.
Another negative effect of foods rich in sodium is that they dehydrate you, which may cause you to wake up out of thirst. Don’t avoid only salt.
You can find high levels of sodium in fast food, ready meals, processed foods, Chinese (especially if you add soy sauce), soups and others.
Many people think that consuming alcohol before going to bed will help them sleep better. It is in fact true that alcohol has a sedative effect; however, it only helps you reach the early stages of your sleep, while preventing you from reaching a deep sleep.
Furthermore, studies have shown that alcohol increases sleep disruptions and will cause you to wake up again and again.
Refined carbohydrates are complex carbs which have had the fiber stripped away so they act as simple carbohydrates do in the body; they are quickly broken down into simple sugars by the digestive system.
This causes a rise in blood sugar levels also known as an insulin spike. This spike causes the nervous system to enter a “fight or flight” mode that doesn’t let you fall to sleep.
The spike is followed by a crash of blood sugar levels that leads to nocturnal hypoglycemia. This condition is characterized by low nighttime blood glucose levels and triggers the secretion of a hormone that sends signals to your brain, telling it that it’s time to eat.
Furthermore, refined carbs are known to drain the body of its vitamin B supply which is used to produce serotonin – a neurotransmitter needed to control sleep cycles.
Refined carbs are found in foods like cakes, pies, candy, most breads, pasta, bagels, foods containing white flour and others.
One good way to decrease your intake of refined carbs is to look for foods that are labeled as whole wheat or whole grain.
Foods to Help You Sleep
Now that you know about some of the foods you should avoid in order to sleep better, how about some that will aid you in your quest for a better night’s sleep?
Cherries are among the richest food sources of melatonin, the same sleep-inducing hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. The body’s production of melatonin declines with age, which is part of the reason that older adults often have trouble sleeping.
One cup of tart-cherry juice or about one-eighth of a cup of dried tart cherries, contains roughly the same amount of melatonin (about 0.3 mg) that a Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism study found helped insomniacs get a better night’s sleep.
Sweet cherries also contain melatonin but not as much.
Complex Carb/Protein Combo
You’ve probably heard that warm milk can help you sleep, since milk contains tryptophan. But the key is to combine carbs with a protein containing tryptophan to help your body better utilize the sleep inducer.
Try pairing a cup of whole grain cereal with organic milk before bedtime.
As noted above, dairy products contain tryptophan. Tryptophan aids brain relaxation, thus preparing the body for a good night of sleep.
To relax your mind and body before bedtime, drink a cup of chamomile tea.
Bananas contain melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that aids in sleep. To fight insomnia, include bananas in your daily diet.
Peanut butter is another food that contains tryptophan. Peanut butter is an excellent before bed snack idea. Just make sure that you eat it about an hour before bedtime, as it takes that amount of time for the tryptophan to reach your brain.
We spend around 1/3 of our day sleeping and that’s when some of the most important processes in our bodies occur. This makes a good night’s sleep crucial for your overall health and well-being.
You can take the first step by improving your diet and avoiding all of the foods that can cause insomnia. Furthermore, you can start eating more of the foods that promote a regular sleeping pattern.
You can also have a look at my article about the top 5 herbs that will help you sleep better.
Once you get your sleeping pattern right, you and the people around you will see and feel the difference.