Amidst our super stressful lives, we give up on sleep almost easily. Most of the research surrounding sleep and diet indicates that less sleep can affect our food judgment and increase hunger pangs. Besides the obvious, your dinner decisions can also leave you wide-eyed. If you find it hard to switch-off at night, here are seven sleep stealers you should immediately break up with.
You've been wrong all this while, if you thought sipping some wine before bedtime can help you unwind. It may help you fall asleep sooner but you may later experience restlessness, headaches, sweating and worse, nightmares! Drinking wine just before going to sleep interferes with the sleep process and prevents your body from entering the deep stages of sleep (REM sleep), thus increasing your chances of feeling tired the next morning. If you still can't shake this habit, you should consume wine or any alcohol at least four to six hours before bedtime and drink a lot of water to help dilute its effects.
2. Green Tea
While you may have imagined that a hot cup of tea would put you to a sound sleep, green tea is not decaffeinated. Although it contains only a small amount of caffeine, it is enough to trigger the nervous system, heart and muscle functions by encouraging the release of certain chemicals in the brain called 'neurotransmitters'. It's better to cut off all forms of caffeine like chocolate, cola, tea and even decaffeinated coffee from your diet at least four to six hours before hitting the sack. Also, consuming too much fluid increases the frequency of washroom breaks at night!
3. Chicken (Protein)
Though protein should form an important part of our daily diet, too much of it may leave you sleep deprived. Chicken is high in protein, the consumption of which may interfere with your circadian rhythm (internal body clock) if eaten just before bed time. Eating protein-rich foods at dinner will energize you instead of calming your body for the night. Also, high protein and fat diets can cause sleep apnea (infrequent breathing while sleeping), resulting in extreme tiredness and an irritable mood throughout the following day.
4. Ice-Cream and Heavy Desserts
A tub of ice-cream for dessert? Not such a good idea, maybe. Ice -cream contains lot of fats and is loaded with sugar. Avoid consuming it too close to bedtime, as your body won't have enough time to burn the fat and that can leave you restless. Also, consuming other fatty and fried foods may lead to a fragmented sleep that'll give you a dreamy day. This can be linked to a brain chemical called orexin that is known to regulate arousal, wakefulness and appetite. (More: How inadequate sleep ups junk food craving)
7. Aged Cheese
The bar of chocolate that you have been slyly noshing on maybe sabotaging your sleep. Milk chocolate contains tyrosine, which is converted into dopamine, a stimulant that will cause alertness and restlessness. Dark chocolate contains the highest quantity of caffeine more than milk or white chocolate and in some brands even more than a cup of coffee! It also contains theobromine, a compound known to increase heart-rate and cause sleeplessness.
6. Spicy Foods
Pungent food like chillies and mustard should be kept at bay as they raise your body temperature and make you restless. These may cause acid reflux that can leave you tossing and turning all night. Garlic is also known as the 'hot herb' and like spicy foods it can cause heartburn.
Legend has it that cheese is linked to bad dreams. Aged cheese is a sneaky source of tyramine (a type of amino acid) which stimulates the brain and could keep you up all night. It may also cause migraine in some people. Stay away from Parmesan, Brie, Gouda, Cheddar and other hard cheeses.
The age old theory still remains that if you eat about three hours before you sleep, chances are you will be less disturbed.