Trouble falling asleep? Stay away from these foods

Trouble falling asleep?
Stay away from these foods

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If you’re finding it difficult to catch 40 winks, your favourite food could be to blame

Have you ever had those days when you’re totally exhausted, completely worn out, but you’re still unable to sleep at night? It might not be caused by your body clock or the phases of the moon. Maybe you just ate the wrong things.

To enjoy a healthy sleep, it might be worth cutting the following foods from your diet:

  • Coffee
  • Bacon cheeseburger
  • Wine
  • Curry
  • Chicken
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Who would have thought it? Caffeine in coffee is absolutely counterproductive if you want to get to sleep quickly at night. The morning stimulant can leave you sitting bolt upright in bed if consumed too late in the day. Depending on the variety, the effect on one person can differ to another but you should give up drinking it beyond the late afternoon. 

  • Wake up factor: caffeine

Bacon cheeseburger 

If it’s late at night and your mind wanders towards devouring a juicy bacon cheeseburger, you should reconsider your order. The fat contained in it is an absolute sleep killer and stimulates the production of gastric acid. This acid then migrates into your oesophagus and can cause heartburn.

  • Wake up factor: fat

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A small glass of wine before bedtime can taste great, and while you might fall asleep afterwards, it’s not all good. Alcohol reduces the important REM sleep phase, i.e. the time when we’re sleeping very deeply and dream. This leads to a poorer quality of sleep resulting in fatigue and lack of concentration.

  • Wake up factor: alcohol


You should avoid cooking an Indian curry for dinner. Why? Because the hot spices could have you lying awake in bed. Scientists suspect that poor sleep is caused by the capsaicin which is contained in the spices. In addition, the flavouring cooking ingredients sometimes cause heartburn. It’s also best to go without tabasco and mustard in the evening. 

  • Wake up factor: hot spices

Chicken breast

Chicken contains many proteins which stimulate the hormone orexin. This not only has an impact on eating habits but also on our sleep rhythm. The more orexin that’s released, the more active you’ll be - thus making sleeping more difficult. On the other hand, people that produce too little orexin can suffer from narcolepsy.

  • Wake up factor: proteins
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Far from wanting to spoil your evening meal, here are some alternative foods that can help you get a good night’s kip:

  • Milk
    Jasmine rice 
    Sweet potatoes
    Valerian tea


It might be Granny’s classic but drinking warm milk before you go to bed does actually help. This is due to the amino acid tryptophan found in the milk. This keeps your serotonin levels constant and helps to form melatonin, a hormone which is crucial for your circadian rhythm and a restful sleep. 

Jasmine rice

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that eating jasmine rice four hours before going to bed halved the amount of time it took to fall asleep. The reason is because of its high glycemic index which gradually releases sugar into the bloodstream. Scientists believe this affects the production of tryptophan and serotonin which work to help you nod off.


The bendy fruit contains magnesium and potassium, two electrolytes which act as muscle relaxants to promote better sleep.

Sweet potatoes

Like bananas, sweet potatoes mainly contain carbohydrates and potassium. They help you to fall asleep by allowing your body to produce increased insulin. And while they might not be so good if you’re looking to lose weight, at least you’ll get a good night’s sleep. 


Valerian is known to promote calmness. Studies suggest tea taken from the root of the valerian plant in the evening will shorten the time it takes to fall asleep. It might also be related to the relaxing ritual of making a cuppa at the end of a long day which gets us ready to hit the hay. And the absence of caffeine.

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01 2017 The Red Bulletin

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