Poor sleep affects us mentally, emotionally and physically. The day after a bad night’s rest (or multiple nights) can leave us feeling irritable and depressed, with poor digestion and an increased appetite.
Certain foods and medication may be contributing to poor sleep. While some medicines are doctor prescribed and necessary, other over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are best avoided, especially when there is an equally effective, natural supplement or food that could replace it.
Check out the following list of foods and medicines that could be impacting your sleep:
Foods to Avoid
Spicy Foods – While some spicy foods offer some great health benefits and are delicious, eating them at night can negatively affect sleep. The main reason for this is that they are likely to cause indigestion, acid reflux and/or heartburn, which can keep you awake and uncomfortable.
Sugar – A dip in blood sugar levels can cause a night-time wake up, so be careful not to eat a sugary snack, dessert, or meal at night, especially before bed. If you are indulging in a sugary treat, be sure to have it alongside some healthy protein and fats to curb the blood sugar spike and dip that occurs.
Caffeine – Caffeine is a definite way to disrupt restful sleep, especially if you drink it in the afternoon or evening. Ideally, avoid caffeine after lunchtime, and energy drinks that are a concentrated source of both sugar and caffeine.
Remember that while dark chocolate is a healthier dessert choice than most, its caffeine content could impact your sleep.
Alcohol – Alcohol might make it easier to fall asleep initially, but it is likely to contribute to night time waking and less restful restorative sleep.
OTC Medicines to Avoid
Prescription medications might be unavoidable, but other OTC meds could impact a good night’s rest. If you have sleep troubles, consider holding off on the following, and opting for more natural supplements and foods to support your body.
Cold and Flu Medications – This category of OTD medications can vary. Antihistamines (such as Benadryl) used to treat allergies will often cause major drowsiness, sometimes lasting up to eight hours. However, decongestants can have the opposite, stimulating effect and cause insomnia for some.
Cough medicines that contain alcohol could interrupt REM sleep by causing more frequent waking overnight.
Pain Relievers – If you’re suffering from a headache or other body pain, the last thing you need is a bad night’s sleep. Some OTC painkillers contain caffeine, which can impact your sleep. Brands to watch out for (especially if taken at night), include Excedrin, Motrin, and Anacin. Read the label to see if caffeine is on the ingredient list.
Foods to Support Restful Sleep
Here are several foods that work to support restful sleep:
Small Amounts of Complex Carbohydrates – As opposed to simple carbs (such as those found in white bread, pasta, rice and baked goods), studies show that an evening meal containing complex carbs (whole grains, beans and veggies) can promote a good night’s rest by increasing REM sleep.
Mineral and Hormone-Rich Foods – Certain minerals and hormones have been shown to play a key role in healthy sleep. Walnuts and tart cherries contain melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone. Leafy green veggies are high in magnesium, a mineral that is critical for sleep. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, another mineral connected with sleep.
Foods that Promote Healthy Digestion – Digestive disturbances can affect our sleep, too. Choosing foods that promote restful sleep and avoiding ones that inhibit it (as discussed above) is important. Probiotic and prebiotic supplements can be helpful. Have support on hand like DiaResQ, which is derived from natural ingredients and won’t mess with sleep. DiaResQ is a food for special dietary use that promotes digestive health by providing the body with important nutrients.
Be mindful of foods and medications you put into your body, especially if you suffer from sleep disturbances. Avoiding certain foods and OTC medicines can make a big difference for the entire family.