5 Foods to Avoid for Better Sleep

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A lot of factors play into a good night’s sleep: a proper mattress and pillows, the temperature of the room, the amount of artificial light in the room. The foods we eat also play an important role in sleep. Although we may not give much thought to what we eat and drink before calling it a night, that bedtime snack or nightcap could be affecting your ability to fall asleep. Want the best night’s sleep possible? Avoid these five foods, and you’ll sleep better!

Hot chocolate contains minimal amounts of caffeine and tyrosine, which will prevent you from falling asleep. Photo By Swamibu/Courtesy Flickr. 

1. Chocolate

A warm cup of cocoa may sound like the perfect treat to lull you to sleep, but this comforting food may have the opposite effect. Although chocolate contains minimal amounts of caffeine, as we grow older many of us develop greater sensitivity to caffeine. Chocolate also contains tyrosine, an amino acid that stimulates brain activity.

Instead of a warm cup of cocoa, try a steaming mug of chamomile tea. 

2. Energy Drinks

Energy drinks may give you a jolt of energy early in the day, but their stimulating effects can last long into the night. Energy drinks contain high doses of caffeine and taurine, an amino acid that the energy drink companies say boosts adrenaline.

Instead of an energy drink, stay alert with these natural energy boosters.

3. Alcohol

Drinking a glass of wine before bed may help you fall asleep faster, but it won’t act as an all-night sedative. The body quickly metabolizes alcohol so that midway through sleep it wears off, causing the sleeper to toss and turn, awaken from dreams and have difficulty returning to sleep.

Instead of a nightcap, drink a glass of milk. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that induces sleep.

Tomato-based foods such as chili, pasta and pizza can cause heartburn and indigestion, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Photo By Sebastian Mary/Courtesy Flickr. 

4. Smoked meats and protein-rich food

A late-night snack can help you fall asleep, but if you’re filling up on a ham or bacon sandwich, think again. Smoked and preserved meats such as ham, bacon and sausage contain tyramine, an amino acid that signals the brain to release norepinephrine, a natural brain stimulant. Protein-rich foods such as meat are also harder to digest, so going to bed on a stomach full of protein will likely keep you up.

Instead of a ham sandwich, try a turkey sandwich. Turkey naturally contains tryptophan.

5. Spicy foods

Spicy foods such as chili, pizza and other tomato-based foods can cause heartburn and indigestion—and indigestion can disrupt sleep. When you lay down to sleep, your digestive slows down, so don’t go to bed on a belly full of heavy, spicy food.

Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on .

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