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3 Types of Food That Wreak Havoc on Sleep

Trouble sleeping? One culprit may be the food you’re eating in the hours before bedtime. Sure, you know to avoid caffeine and sugar, but there are other diet staples that could be keeping you up at night. Karman Meyer, author of EAT TO SLEEP, shares 3 types of food that wreak havoc on our sleep and how to adjust your habits in order to fall asleep faster and wake up feeling refreshed every morning.

#1. Dark Chocolate

While dark chocolate has its nutritional benefits, like being chock-full of antioxidants, it also contains caffeine. The cacao bean from which chocolate is derived naturally has caffeine. Therefore, the higher the cacao content and the darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content. Dark chocolate is generally classified as having a cacao content of 60 percent or higher. This percentage is usually displayed on the front of the package. If there is no percentage listed and the label doesn’t include “dark chocolate,” it’s safe to assume there is less than 60 percent cacao solids. The amount of caffeine in a chocolate bar may vary based on the cacao bean type and origin. How that caffeine will impact your ability to sleep really depends more on your tolerance for caffeine and your usual caffeine consumption during the day. If you regularly enjoy dark chocolate before bed and are unsure if it’s a culprit for your sleep troubles, try skipping it for a week or two to see if your sleep improves. Chances are that if you’re sensitive to caffeine from soft drinks, tea, and coffee, then having dark chocolate even 4–5 hours before bed could possibly interfere with your sleep.

#2. Spicy Foods

Love having a plate of spicy chicken wings while watching Monday Night Football? Maybe you go a little heavy on the hot sauce at dinnertime? Spicy foods, especially for those who experience acid reflux, can certainly cause an interference with sleep. While you could reach for the antacids to help fight off imminent heartburn, they only mask the problem and are not meant to be used long-term. With continued use, these medications slowly become ineffective, meaning you’ll start taking more than recommended and still will not have relief. So if you’re experiencing heartburn, listen to your body and limit spicy foods to address the problem. Just because you may need to toss out your favorite hot sauce for the sake of sleep doesn’t mean all of your food has to be bland. There are plenty of great ways to flavor your food! Try using fresh or dried herbs like basil, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Or instead of dousing your chicken wings in hot sauce, try a homemade garlic parmesan sauce (unless garlic is a trigger food for your reflux) or a honey-soy sauce glaze.

#3. Acidic Foods

Nearly 60 million Americans report having heartburn at least once a month, and sometimes it can be difficult pinpointing the exact cause without some trial and error. Acidic foods may be the culprit of your acid reflux. Whether it’s eating the fruit itself or drinking the juice, citrus fruit contains a lot of acid naturally, so when the stomach tries to digest it, there can be an acid overload, causing it to back up into your esophagus. The same reaction can occur with tomato-based sauces on pasta or pizza and even sliced tomatoes. Having citrus or tomatoes on an empty stomach can make symptoms even worse. Heartburn can last a few minutes to several hours, and the longer it goes untreated, the worse it can get. As mentioned in the previous section, acid reflux is not something you want to mask by chewing a bunch of antacids. It’s important to uncover what the cause of the reflux is and limit the food, as chronic reflux can lead to more serious complications.

For more sleeping advice pick up a copy of EAT TO SLEEP by Karman Meyer!

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Also from Tips on Life & Love: How to Use Sleep Affirmations for Better Rest

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Excerpted from Eat to Sleep by Karman Meyer. Copyright © 2019 by the author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

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