All food wasn’t created equal. There are some that invite sleep. Some that disrupt it. The rule of thumb is that anything that’s stimulating or energizing is not the best food before sleep. Neither is anything too spicy, fatty, acidic, or carb-laden.
Here’s a list of food and beverages you can remove from your dinner table.
1. Coffee, Chocolate, Soda
Anything that contains caffeine can give you sleepless nights. That includes coffee and chocolates. Caffeine increases dopamine, the hormone that makes you alert, and reduces GABA, the brain chemical that helps you relax and drift off to sleep. There’s another problem with soda. It’s laden with sugar, which reduces the duration of deep sleep.
It may seem easier to drift off to sleep with a nightcap, but that’s a false promise. Alcohol eats into your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep – the dream stage of sleep which has a restorative effect on your health.
3. Burgers or Pizzas
No matter how many veggies you put in your burger or on your pizza, dinner is not the best time to chomp on these carb- and fat-heavy foods. Fat is tough to digest and can cause acid reflux in your sleep. Besides, the simple carbs (refined flour) in them affect deep sleep.
If on some nights, you do enjoy a burger or a slice of pizza, put about 3 hours between your dinner and your sleep.
4. Hot Peppers or Very Spicy Foods
Everyone has a different spice tolerance. If yours is low, avoid hot peppers for dinner. The capsaicin in them could trigger heartburn. There’s another reason spicy foods are not good for dinner. Your core body temperature drops when you sleep. Being thermogenic (that is they produce heat in the body), spicy foods can raise the body temperature and disrupt your sleep.
Follow this simple tip. To sleep well, think moderation. That means first choosing foods that are not too heavy in refined carbs, fats, and proteins and then eating a smaller portion than you would for lunch.