Improving the quality of sleep: what to avoid (2023)

Improving the quality of sleep: what to avoid (1)

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What foods affect your ability to sleep?

by Festgood registered dietitians.

You may have heard that certain nutrients can interfere with sleep. But does this mean that food and drink directly affect the ability to sleep?

With a background in nutrition and dietetics, I can tell you exactly which foods and nutrients research has shown can disrupt sleep.

Foods that lead to poor sleep are usually high in sugar and/or fat, such as sweets, smoothies and soft drinks, full-fat dairy products, fried foods, cheese and cold cuts, and spicy foods. Caffeine, whether in food or drink, and alcohol can also interfere with sleep, depending on the amount consumed.

Knowing which foods and drinks negatively affect sleep is important because it will help you make more informed choices when it comes to getting a good night's sleep.

the central theses
  • The relationship between diet and sleep regulation is complex, as many nutrients and hormones are involved in the sleep-wake cycle and fasting cycle.
  • There isn't a single food that gets in the way of sleep. Rather, it is the cumulative effect of your eating habits, which may include heavy meals before bed (high in fat and sugar and low in fiber and complex carbohydrates).
  • Research suggests that kiwifruit, cherry juice, walnuts and salmon are among the foods that promote sleep because they contain nutrients that interact with sleep metabolism.

The science behind eating and sleeping

Diet and sleep are closely linked. This is because the ingredients in certain foods and drinks can affect hormones and neurotransmitters involved in sleep regulation.

Sleep is regulated by a complex interplay of hormones and neurotransmitters, including serotonin, melatonin and cortisol. They all help regulate the so-calledam-eve cycle.

Serotonin regulates mood and is essential for melatonin production. Melatonin (sleep hormone) helps you relax and fall asleep, while cortisol (stress hormone) promotes alertness and alertness throughout the day, helping you wake up and feel awake.

Low levels of serotonin can lead to moodiness, which in turn affects melatonin production. consequently ifMelatoninEcortisolout of balance, they can cause sleeplessness and sleeplessness.

In addition to melatonin, cortisol and serotonin, other hormones such as insulin, leptin and ghrelin can also disrupt sleep.

Insulin helps regulate blood sugar levels, while leptin and ghrelin (hunger/satiety hormones) help regulate appetite. When blood sugar is unstable andleptinand ghrelin out of balance, they can lead to sleep disorders and insomnia.

Ultimately, what you eat affects your hormones and can disrupt your sleep patterns, which in turn can affect food choices and eating habits.

For example, if you're not getting enough sleep, you're more likely to do this.desire for more foodand decide forhigh calorie foods.

5 types of food that interfere with sleep

caffeinated foods

Caffeine is a stimulant that makes you more alert and alert.

May affect sleep quality if taken more than you tolerate, or if taken later in the day or before bedtime (within 6 hours of bedtime).

According toUS Food and Drug AdministrationRecommendations The safe amount of caffeine is 400 mg per day.

Here are some examples of caffeinated foods and beverages, taken from theUS Department of Agriculture Food Data Center:

  • Coffee: 240 ml of coffee contains about 80-100 mg of caffeine. So if you normally drink 4 cups of brewed coffee a day, that's your caffeine limit.
  • Tea: An 8-ounce cup of green or black tea contains 30-50 mg (herbal teas do not contain caffeine).
  • Chocolate: A 28 gram serving contains around 9-12 mg of caffeine, which means that a 100 gram bar of chocolate contains around 30-40 mg.
  • Coffee flavored ice cream: ranges from 30 to 70 mg per 240 ml. For example, Ben & Jerry's coffee ice cream contains 70 mg, while Häagen-Daz contains 30 mg.
  • Energy drinks: Caffeine can range from 40 to 250 mg in energy drinks. For example, a 250ml can of Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine and a 473ml can of Monster contains 160mg.
  • Sodas: A 360ml bottle typically contains 30-40mg of caffeine. This includes diet sodas as well as whole sugar like diet Pepsi and Pepsi-Cola.
  • Pre-workout supplements:A pre-workout serving contains between 200 and 420 mg of caffeine, which means it's pretty easy to crack the lid if you eat other caffeinated foods during the day.

Tyramine-rich foods

tyramineis an amino acid (protein) that promotes the production of stimulants (norepinephrine, adrenaline). It is produced in the body, but it is also found in various foods. High levels in the body are associated with itmigraineEinsomnia.

Tyramine is mostly found in aged and fermented foods and beverages (products with a longer shelf life with added preservatives and salt). consider this6 mg of tyraminein any portion of 30g of food is considered high.

Here is a list of tyramine-rich foods:

  • Aged cheeses: blue cheeses (Camembert, Stilton and Gorgonzola) and hard cheeses (Cheddar, Parmesan and Emmentaler)
  • Cured meat/fish products: ham, salami, dry summer sausages, mortadella, beef jerky and preserved or smoked fish
  • Alcoholic beverages: Homemade or unpasteurized European or Korean beer
  • Overripe/spoiled fruits and vegetables: Overripe bananas and avocados, pickles (kimchi or sauerkraut)

sugary food

Sugary foods are usually high in simple and refined carbohydrates and make you hungry quickly because they are not filling and low in fiber. As such, they cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall.

Low fiber and high saturated fat and sugar intake are associated with lighter, less restful sleep and more arousalMarie-Pierre St-Onge –Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

This means that excessive consumption of sugary foods (including added sugars) is associated with it.i am perturbed(Note that the daily limit forAdded sugar intake accounts for 10% of total calories).

Common high-sugar foods that can interfere with sleep include:

  • Sugary Drinks: Whole Sodas, Fruit Juices, Smoothies, Red Bull, Monster.
  • Candy/Candies: Gummy bears, jelly beans, chocolates such as Mon Cheri and Pocket Espresso, sugar-coated dried fruit or nuts, chocolate/nut spreads, jam, honey, white table sugar, maple syrup, and agave syrup.
  • Some nutritional supplements for athletes: athlete chews, simple sugar gels, dextrose powder, Gatorade and Lucozade.
  • Baked goods: waffles, donuts, cakes, cookies.

spicy foods

Spicy foods are linked to poor sleep because they can causeheartburn and indigestionwhen eaten just before bedtime. This could be because lying down allows acids to build up, which can get worse while you sleep.

increase in body temperatureafter eating spicy food can also be another reason for poor sleep.

Therefore, avoid (if possible) spicy foods late in the evening, just before bedtime (1-2 hours is scarce).

Here are some examples of spicy foods:

  • Peppers: Ghost Pepper, Jalapeño, Serrano, and Thai Pepper
  • Spicy dishes: curries, kimchi, tom yum soups and ramen noodles
  • Sauces/Condiments: Tabasco, Mustard, Wasabi, Sweet Pepper Sauce, Spicy Olive Oil, Hot Sauce, Buffalo Sauce

High-fat foods

High-fat foods, especially high inTrans-FetteEsaturated fat, can affect the quality of sleep.

This is because fat is more complex to break down and digest than other nutrients, as it takes 3-4 hours to digest. Too much fat in a meal also means your meal is high in calories, resulting in a heavy meal before bed.

Keep in mind that fat intake should be approximate.20-35%Your total daily calories (depending on your goals and training), with no more than 10% of these coming from saturated fat.

Here's a list of high-fat foods to limit, especially before bed:

  • Fried foods: Cakes, hamburgers, fries, pizzas and donuts.
  • Whole dairy: yogurt, whole milk, cream and cheese.
  • Salty and fatty meats: chicken skin, bacon, chorizo, salami, pancetta and sausages.
  • Oils/Folders: Butter, ghee, tallow, lard and coconut oil.

The effect of alcohol on sleep

Alcohol acts as a depressant and interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain. It is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream to reach the liver, but your liver can only process a small amount at a time.

This means that excess alcohol circulates throughout the body (depending on the person and the amount of alcohol consumed, alcohol can circulate in the body for several hours).

Alcohol taken with caffeine or energy drinks masks the sedative effects of alcohol, which often lead people to drink more.

for these reasons,Too much alcohol can cause insomnia, even if it initially causes drowsiness.

My advice would be to limit alcohol consumption, especially before bed. Try not to drink alcohol at least four hours before bedtime to avoid sleep disturbances.

Heavy meals and trouble sleeping

Heavy meals consisting mainly offat and sugaryfood is connectedI'm interrupting. This is due to the more complex digestive needs attributed to heavy meals.

These meals can take several hours to digest, and sleeping on a full stomach can increase your risk of heartburn or indigestion.

To avoid this, give your body time to digest. If possible, wait 3-4 hours after a meal before going to bed.

Try to eat lighter meals rich in fiber (vegetables and whole grains), protein (meat, eggs, fish or legumes) and complex carbohydrates (wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, quinoa) that will give you longer-lasting energy before the day turns to sleep.

For example:

  • 90-110g cooked chicken fillet, 3-4 egg-sized potatoes cooked in their skins, steamed broccoli and cauliflower.
  • 140g of grilled salmon fillet with 90g of cooked quinoa and asparagus.
  • 2 slices of black bread, 2-3 scrambled eggs mixed with tomatoes and mushrooms.

common questions

Can going to bed hungry affect your sleep?

Going to bed hungry because you are in a weight loss phase and losing weight on purpose can be normal. However, if your hunger is so intense that it keeps you awake, you could be cutting too many calories and missing out on certain nutrients, which in turn could affect your sleep quality.

When should you stop eating before bed?

You should stop eating 3-4 hours before bed, as this gives your body time to digest your meal and absorb it as energy. This time frame can help you limit indigestion from your meal and ensure better quality sleep.

Is it bad to eat before bed?

If you eat a meal right before bed, you may have trouble falling asleep as it can take 3-4 hours for a meal to be fully digested (depending on the macros of the meal). This means you run the risk of being up at night due to indigestion, which can happen especially with sugary, fatty and spicy foods.

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Improving the quality of sleep: what to avoid (7)


What improves your quality of sleep? ›

Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom.

What are 10 tips to improve sleep? ›

Top 10 tips for a good night's sleep
  • Take time to relax. ...
  • Get into a routine. ...
  • Avoid technology. ...
  • Create a restful environment. ...
  • Don't clock watch. ...
  • Foods for sleeping. ...
  • Foods to avoid. ...
  • Darkness promotes sleep.
More items...

What is the secret to sleep faster? ›

Tips for Better Sleep
  • Sticking to a consistent sleep and wake schedule.
  • Reducing caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol intake.
  • Avoiding electronic devices in the leadup to bedtime.
  • Ensuring that you have a quiet, dark, and comfortably cool sleep environment free of distractions.
More items...
Mar 31, 2023

What is the most healthy sleep position? ›

Specifically, sleeping on the side or back is considered more beneficial than sleeping on the stomach. In either of these sleep positions, it's easier to keep your spine supported and balanced, which relieves pressure on the spinal tissues and enables your muscles to relax and recover.

What is probably the most common disrupter of sleep? ›

Sure, blue light exposure or working out before bed can make you feel more awake than you should be, but when it comes to the most common sleep disruptors, Dr. Michael Breus, Ph. D. —he's also known as The Sleep Doctor—says that it typically comes down to caffeine, alcohol, and anxiety.

What are two factors that can affect sleep? ›

Other factors that affect sleep include stress and many medical conditions, especially those that cause chronic pain or other discomfort. External factors, such as what we eat and drink, the medications we take, and the environment in which we sleep can also greatly affect the quantity and quality of our sleep.

What is the 4 7 8 sleep trick? ›

Close your mouth and quietly inhale through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound for a count of eight. Repeat the process three more times for a total of four breath cycles.

What are the bad side effects of melatonin? ›

Melatonin does not have many common side effects but there are things you can do to help cope with them:
  • Feeling sleepy or tired in the daytime. ...
  • Headache. ...
  • Stomach ache. ...
  • Feeling sick (nausea) ...
  • Feeling dizzy. ...
  • Feeling irritable or restless. ...
  • Dry mouth. ...
  • Dry or itchy skin.
More items...

Why do I wake up at 3am and can't go back to sleep? ›

If you wake up at 3 a.m. or another time and can't fall right back asleep, it may be for several reasons. These include lighter sleep cycles, stress, or underlying health conditions. Your 3 a.m. awakenings may occur infrequently and be nothing serious, but regular nights like this could be a sign of insomnia.

Is it better to sleep with pillow or without pillow? ›

It's generally recommended to use a pillow if you sleep on your back or side. However, what's most important is that you feel comfortable and pain-free in bed. If you have neck or back pain, or if you have spine condition like scoliosis, sleeping without a pillow may be unsafe.

Where do you put your arms when sleeping on your side? ›

First, make sure that your arms are down by your side. Sleeping with your arms overhead, perhaps around your pillow, can pinch your lower shoulder. Instead, sleep with your arms down by your side.

What is the best sleeping position over 50? ›

Best: On your back with a pillow under your knees, or on your good side with a pillow between your knees.

What is the number 1 sleep disorder? ›

Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder, involves problems getting to sleep or staying asleep. About one-third of adults report some insomnia symptoms, 10-15 percent report problems with functioning during the daytime and 6-10 percent have symptoms severe enough to meet criteria for insomnia disorder.

What are the 3 types of sleeping habits? ›

A monophasic sleep pattern is when an individual sleeps once per day, typically for 8 or so hours a night. A biphasic sleep pattern is when someone sleeps twice per day, sometimes referred to as a siesta sleeping pattern. A polyphasic sleep pattern is when a person sleeps for periods of time throughout the day.

What are five condition that can interfere with sleep? ›

Here's a look at the six categories of sleep disorders and how you can get better rest.
  • Lack of sleep. Insomnia sufferers have a hard time falling or staying asleep and often feel drowsy. ...
  • Snoring and sleep apnea. ...
  • Circadian rhythm disorders. ...
  • Movement disorders. ...
  • Parasomnias. ...
  • Too much sleep.
Jun 15, 2022

What are 4 problems associated with sleep? ›

Not getting enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions—such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression—that threaten our nation's health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to motor vehicle crashes and mistakes at work, which cause a lot of injury and disability each year.

What causes lack of deep sleep? ›

Some people with insomnia experience changes in their sleep cycles and, as a result, may have more stage 1 sleep and less deep sleep. Stress and aging can also reduce levels of deep sleep. Additionally, people with conditions such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease experience less slow wave sleep.

How can I get 7 hours of quality sleep? ›

Set a bedtime routine.
  1. Go to bed at the same time every night.
  2. Try to get the same amount of sleep each night.
  3. Avoid eating, talking on the phone, or reading in bed.
  4. Avoid using computers or smartphones, watching TV, or playing video games at bedtime.
More items...
Aug 1, 2021

How can I stay asleep for 8 hours? ›

  1. Establish a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine. ...
  2. Relax your body. ...
  3. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. ...
  4. Put clocks in your bedroom out of sight. ...
  5. Avoid caffeine after noon, and limit alcohol to 1 drink several hours before bedtime. ...
  6. Avoid smoking. ...
  7. Get regular exercise. ...
  8. Go to bed only when you're sleepy.
More items...

Why am I always tired even though I get enough sleep? ›

If you regularly feel tired after a full night's sleep, you may have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. This is a potentially serious condition in which your breathing repeatedly stops while you sleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your risk of: High blood pressure.

What affects deep sleep the most? ›

People in pain or discomfort often have difficulty getting deep sleep. Loud noises and bright lights in or near the sleeping environment may also make it difficult to get deep sleep. To get the best possible sleep, sleepers should keep their bedroom dark, quiet, and cool with a comfortable bed and pillows.

What are the most common causes of sleep problems? ›

Common causes of chronic insomnia include:
  • Stress. Concerns about work, school, health, finances or family can keep your mind active at night, making it difficult to sleep. ...
  • Travel or work schedule. ...
  • Poor sleep habits. ...
  • Eating too much late in the evening.
Oct 15, 2016

How do you fix sleep problems? ›

Basic tips:
  1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including on weekends.
  2. Stay active. ...
  3. Check your medications. ...
  4. Avoid or limit naps. ...
  5. Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol and don't use nicotine. ...
  6. Don't put up with pain. ...
  7. Avoid large meals and beverages before bed.
Oct 15, 2016

How much sleep do I need by age? ›

How Much Sleep Do I Need?
Age Group Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day
Newborn 0–3 months 14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation)1 No recommendation (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)2
Teen 13–18 years 8–10 hours per 24 hours2
Adult 18–60 years 7 or more hours per night3
61–64 years 7–9 hours1
5 more rows
Sep 14, 2022

What is the best hours of sleep? ›

How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?
Age group Recommended amount of sleep
3 to 5 years 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours, including naps
6 to 12 years 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
13 to 18 years 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours
Adults 7 or more hours a night
2 more rows

Why do I always wake up at 3am? ›

If you wake up at 3 a.m. or another time and can't fall right back asleep, it may be for several reasons. These include lighter sleep cycles, stress, or underlying health conditions. Your 3 a.m. awakenings may occur infrequently and be nothing serious, but regular nights like this could be a sign of insomnia.

How do I stop waking up at 3am? ›

Use A Sleep Aid
  1. Use a Sleep Mask to stop waking up at first light.
  2. Choose The Right Pillow to prevent neck pain in the night.
  3. Use Earplugs/Headphones if you get woken by noise.
Mar 26, 2020

Why am I so lazy tired and unmotivated? ›

Mental laziness and lack of motivation can also be caused by one simple problem: not having enough exercise and nutrients in the body. One should consider eating healthy food high in protein, such as green, leafy vegetables, and fatty fish. Research also suggests eating berries and walnuts and drinking coffee or tea.

Why do I never wake up feeling rested? ›

The most common cause of sleepiness is not sleeping long enough. Getting enough restful sleep is crucial for maintaining good health. Research over the past decade has shown that healthy sleep is just as important as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.

How do I stop being tired all the time? ›

Self-help tips to fight tiredness
  1. Eat often to beat tiredness. ...
  2. Get moving. ...
  3. Lose weight to gain energy. ...
  4. Sleep well. ...
  5. Reduce stress to boost energy. ...
  6. Talking therapy beats fatigue. ...
  7. Cut out caffeine. ...
  8. Drink less alcohol.
More items...


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