If you’re zombie-ing through your day because you didn’t sleep the night before, or the night before that, or the night before that, you can join the ranks of the nearly 60 million others who experience sleep deprivation.
We’ve all learned to accommodate for our missed hours of rest through regular coffee infusions, extra vitamins and supplements, and other learned habits. But what if you could just stop the problem completely? Is there a magic pill for that besides the ones you get through prescriptions?
Instead of looking to mask the issue, it’s important to analyze why you aren’t sleeping. There are many possibilities, including stress or a bad mattress, but one of the most commonly overlooked reasons for chronic insomnia and sleep deprivation actually stems from your diet.
A little analysis of your daily food habits, a little tweaking here and there, and you could be sleeping like a baby within a few days! So how is your diet affecting your sleep? Check out these 6 potential deterrents to your restful slumber.
Six Ways Your Diet Could be Keeping You from Sleeping
Sleep disorders should not be taken lightly. Even one night without enough sleep causes detrimental symptoms. The inability to focus and lack of attention fatigue brings with it is one of the top factors in automobile and work-related accidents.
Fatigue from sleep loss makes you irritable and forgetful. When that lack of sleep turns into ongoing sleep deprivation and sleeping habits such as sleep masturbation can affect your relationships, your job, your ability to learn, and your choices.
In some circumstances, ongoing insomnia and sleep deprivation is a sign of an underlying serious medical condition. Be sure to contact your physician if you feel like your sleep loss may be related to something more serious.
For many people, though, lack of sleep could be something as innocent as what you ate that day or have in your diet regularly. Here are six sneaky ingredients that may be keeping you up at night.
1. Caffeine is the obvious culprit
The same ingredient that is keeping you awake all day after a sleepless night is probably causing the problem, too. Even if you’re dragging through the afternoon and evening, you must avoid caffeine. This includes anything with caffeine as an ingredient, including sodas, coffee, tea, and chocolate.
But if you are skipping all of these problem areas and still can’t sleep, check your food labels. Caffeine is often hidden in many packaged foods and drinks, and just a little bit in your system can keep you awake for 10 to 12 hours after you eat or drink it.
2. Alcohol makes you sleepy. Or does it?
Alcohol is often used for sedative purposes by those looking to relax before bedtime. It does the trick. It’s a depressant, so it is calming. But it’s actually a double-edged sword and can cause you to fall asleep easily and then wake up in the middle of the night. If this is your regular sleeping pattern, you might want to avoid the evening bubbly.
3. Comfort foods that are high in fat mess up your sleep cycle
When you aren’t careful about what you eat in the evenings, you may be paying for it later. High-fat foods like greasy appetizers at a restaurant, indulging your ice cream craving, or crunching on those chips cause your body’s rhythm to be thrown off, keeping you awake or waking you up.
If you must have something to snack on in the evening, try choosing from these foods that actually promote better sleep rather than interfering with it.
4. Vegetables are great for you, but maybe not for your sleep
You may think you’re doing the right thing by filling up on broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and other raw veggies, but they can wake you up as they work their way through your digestive tract. They keep you feeling full longer, but they also take a while to digest. You’ll be feeling the effects while you sleep, so try to avoid them at dinner.
5. Some meats stimulate your brain
Pizza for dinner? Of course! But hold the pepperoni, sausage, and bacon. These meats contain an amino acid called tyramine. High doses of this amino acid, like those amounts found in cured meats, cause your brain to secrete more levels of norepinephrine.
This chemical’s main job is to cause the body to prepare for action and is known as part of the “fight or flight” adrenaline surge. Not exactly the mood you’re trying to set for a restful night of sleep, is it?
6. Even decaf drinks should be avoided
A common misunderstanding is that if you choose decaf, you’re avoiding caffeine altogether. Decaffeinated coffee and tea does not mean there is no caffeine at all in what you are drinking, though, and the scary part is that the amounts in drinks sold in coffee stores vary depending on where you get your drink from.
Some decaf drinks contain minimal amounts of caffeine that should not affect your sleep, but others contain as much caffeine in a “decaf” as you’d find in a regular can of Coke. Check the numbers on your decaf drinks and don’t assume that just because you’re opting for this version you’re safe from the hazardous effects of caffeine.
Your Body Runs on What You Feed it
The saying “You are what you eat” isn’t that far off of the mark. It’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but your body is created to run off of what you feed it. When you feed it unhealthy foods and drinks, it’s going to run sluggishly and the systems are going to perform poorly. This includes your circadian rhythm and sleep cycles.
Before you opt for those “magic” sleeping pills or go through another day on a caffeine IV, check your diet for these sneaky sleep disruptors. Your next full night’s sleep might be as easy as making a small tweak in your daily diet.