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What You Eat May Be Keeping You Awake

If you find yourself lying awake at night, tossing and turning in an effort to fall asleep, you are not alone. An estimated 41 million American adults are getting 6 or less hours of sleep every night. Stress is most commonly blamed for keeping adults awake at night, and while all of that over-thinking may play a part in keeping you awake, there are other factors that should be examined when trying to find the culprit behind your sleeping challenges. Not the least of these factors is your diet. What you eat throughout your day may be taking a toll on your night.

Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine found in coffee and tea beverages are perhaps the most obvious sleep offenders. When you reach for that morning latte to wake you up, be aware that the caffeine can stay in your system for up to 10 hours. Those who are especially sensitive to this stimulant could be feeling an afternoon tea late into the evening. An often forgotten source of caffeine is dark chocolate, which also contains theobromine that can have caffeine-like effects. It is best to avoid dark chocolate at night and keep your caffeinated beverages for the morning hours.

Unhealthy Snacks

Foods that are too fatty or too spicy can also wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. You may want to stay away from unhealthy fats as these can disrupt neurotransmitters in your brain, keeping you awake and craving more fat and sugar. Replacing fats from fried and processed foods with healthy fats found olive oil and avocados will benefit your sleep and overall health. It is also good to keep in mind that overly spicy meals may lead to indigestion, making it uncomfortable to get a good night's rest. Eat spicier foods earlier in the day.

Limit Your Alcoholic Beverages

Surprisingly, alcohol is another sleep disturber. You may be familiar with the tradition of having a 'night cap' to help bring on drowsiness. It is true that alcohol works as a muscle relaxant and may make you fall asleep faster, however, it is also shown to increase sleep disruptions later in the night, leaving you more likely to wake during your sleep. A solid deep sleep is important for feeling fully rested in the morning, so avoid alcoholic beverages before bed.

If you find that you do stay away from these sleep disrupting foods and are still having trouble sleeping, these tips could help:

1. Eat a variety of healthy foods, as studies show that people who eat a more varied diet have better sleep patterns. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
2. Try an herbal tea such as chamomile to help relax your body and promote sleep.
3. Stop eating 3 hours before bed, as having a meal before you go to sleep can disrupt insulin and blood sugar levels. You don't want your body to focus on digesting when it should be focused on resting.
4. Shut down all lights and electronic equipment. Avoid using light producing electronics like TVs and computers. These lights can suppress your body's ability to produce the melatonin needed for quality sleep.


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