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​Eat well to sleep well: Avoid these foods for a good night’s sleep

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Eat well to sleep well: Avoid these foods for a good night’s sleep

By Meg Cowper-Lewis

Do you long for a good night's sleep? Here are some useful tips on foods that can negatively affect your sleep patterns when eaten late afternoon or at night.

We’re all aware of how the quality of our sleep can impact on our daily lives. Poor or disrupted sleep can affect your work, concentration, and ability to interact with others. Sleep is rejuvenating, and a good night’s sleep allows us to operate efficiently and face the new day feeling fresh and alert.

1. Alcohol

Small amounts of alcohol can help you fall asleep. However, as the body metabolises the alcohol, sleep may become fragmented. Too much alcohol can worsen insomnia and also impair rapid eye movement (REM) sleep - the time when the body is in its restorative phase. It also dehydrates you, leaving you tired the next day.

2. Caffeine can disturb sleep

Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical that activates the central nervous system, which means that it revs up nerves and thought processes. Any food or beverage that contains caffeine, for example, carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks, tea, coffee, and chocolate can disturb sleep. It’s best to try to avoid all caffeine in the afternoon and evening.

3. Forget the Trans fats

If you consume a high trans-fat meal in the evening or eat foods that you have found cause you indigestion and heartburn, your sleep can be disturbed and restless.

4. Eat a moderate evening meal as early as possible

It’s important to avoid late, heavy meals that delay the emptying of the stomach. Lying down on a full stomach encourages acids and gastric juices to flow up into the oesophagus, causing uncomfortable heartburn and acid reflux. This interferes with a good night’s sleep. Eat a light supper, preferably three hours before bedtime.

5. Do not snack at bedtime

Your body needs a 12-hour rest from food to allow it to digest, assimilate, and eliminate the food you’ve eaten the day before.

6. Drinking fluids too close to bedtime can cause problems

Avoiding fluids and watery fruit for 90 minutes before bedtime will help to reduce the need to use the toilet during the night.

7. Dairy foods

Many people are allergic to dairy foods that can interrupt sleep through conditions such as nasal congestion, snoring and sleep apnoea.

8. Chemical food additives

Many chemical food additives can be associated with sleep disturbance. These include artificial colours, processed annatto (the colourant that turns margarine from grey to yellow), preservatives, synthetic antioxidants, flavour enhancers, etc.