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The Food You Should Avoid If You Can't Sleep

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The Food You Should Avoid If You Can't Sleep

There’s nothing worse than lying in bed, desperate to go to sleep – but not being able to.

We’ve tried having a hot bath before bed, reading some books and even counting sheep; all to no avail.

However, it may not be down to your nighttime habits, but your diet that’s keeping you up at bedtime.

There's nothing worse than being unable to sleep (Credit: Shutterstock)
There's nothing worse than being unable to sleep (Credit: Shutterstock)
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Had a big burger loaded with onion rings for your dinner - or perhaps an onion-y pasta sauce? Well, those onions may be the thing that’s stopping you catching a few zzz’s.

“Onions create gas as they move through your digestive system," The Sleep Association explain.

"That gas affects the pressure within your stomach, which can send acid back up your oesophagus, especially when you’re lying down flat.

"Sadly, both raw and grilled onions have this effect.”

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Wellness experts at Eden's Gate agree. "Onions can often cause symptoms such as heartburn, bloating, abdominal discomfort nausea and vomiting; this is more common when eating onions raw rather than cooked," they told Tyla.

"Therefore, it’s best to keep away from onions before bed as the discomfort they bring to some throughout the night isn't worth the taste!"

Onions aren’t the only food to keep an eye on when you’re digging in at dinner time.

Tomatoes are likely to keep you up at night, as they can cause digestive issues such as acid reflux and make things less comfortable to sleep.

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Tomatoes may also be the culprit (Credit: Unsplash)
Tomatoes may also be the culprit (Credit: Unsplash)

Other foods to keep an eye out for include those high in sugar.

Sleep expert Annaliese Curtis at Mattress Online told Tyla: “Some foods may have a detrimental effect on the brain and metabolism when consumed in excess. For example, several studies have linked increases in sugar consumption to disturbed sleep patterns, more restlessness during sleep and shorter uninterrupted sleep.

High sugar foods late at night can also affect our blood sugars, leaving us unable to sleep.”

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And unsurprisingly, alcohol, coffee and chocolate should also be given a wide berth when it’s time for bed.

“Alcohol shortly before bedtime has been found to have an overall negative impact on sleep. Alcohol is a sedative so it may help you drop off to sleep, but you're not going to go into the deep restorative sleep and you may wake in the night, or wake up feeling sluggish in the morning,” Annaliese explains.

Dark chocolate is bad for your sleep (Credit: Unsplash)
Dark chocolate is bad for your sleep (Credit: Unsplash)

“Heavier alcohol use can also cause hangover symptoms, such as headaches, gastrointestinal upset, fatigue, and thirst. And these symptoms impact functioning during the day and even the sleep quality of the following night.

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"Meanwhile, it's no secret that caffeine keeps you awake, but your lunchtime coffee could stop you from sleeping. A study observed that 400mg of caffeine six hours before bed can delay sleep by one hour.

“Besides obvious caffeine sources like coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks, some foods contain caffeine too. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, biscuits and sweets can have considerable amounts of caffeine, potentially delaying our ability to fall asleep when eaten before bedtime. A 100-gram dark chocolate bar may contain as much (if not more) caffeine as a cup of coffee! The darker the chocolate, the higher its caffeine content.”

But if you have overindulged at dinner time, there are ways to ease your stomach before you head to bed.

"Peppermint has an antispasmodic effect on the body which relieves stomach problems such as nausea and indigestion," wellness experts at Eden's Gate explain. "Drinking a cup of peppermint tea after meals to quickly soothe your stomach can help reduce indigestion around bedtime.   

"Ginger is another natural remedy for indigestion because it can reduce stomach acid, drinking ginger tea can soothe your stomach and get rid of indigestion or even sucking on ginger sweets can help reduce it before bed.”

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

Topics: Health, Sleep, Food and Drink

Kimberley Bond
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