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Healthy eating for a good night's sleep

If you’ve been tossing and turning more than normal lately, it may be what you’re eating. There are a number of foods that can make sleep difficult. Here are six things you should avoid or limit so that you’re not left counting sheep each night.


  • I am sure you thought of this one. Most people don't realize that caffeine can affect your ability to sleep for 12 hours, especially if you are sensitive to it. What makes this more difficult is that many people who drink coffee in the afternoon to stay awake have trouble falling asleep at night and don't realize that this is part of that connection. What else can get you through the 3 pm slump? Decaffeinated coffee often still has at least a little caffeine, and if taken at night may still impede sleep.


  • High-fat foods are not a good idea. Numerous studies have found a connection between overweight and obesity and difficultly sleeping. One recent study showed that older women who ate high fat diet (no matter if they were a healthy weight) did not sleep as well.


  • As we get older getting up to go to the bathroom can interrupt sleep, and then it can be difficult to get back to sleep. If you find yourself waking up to go to the bathroom, you may be drinking too much water at night. Try to drink more early in the day

Heavy or Spicy Food

  • Heartburn and reflux do not make easily to fall asleep or stay a sleep. A large number of Americans are on medications to control these, and they are closely related to the foods we eat. For a number of reasons, reflux can get worse at night, as you are falling asleep and make you uncomfortable. If you are having a restless night and you ate a particularly heavy or spicy meal late in the day, this could be part of the problem.


  • Tea is relaxing and soothing and good for you (packed with antioxidants). Tea, not herbal infusions like chamomile contain caffeine. Some teas contain more than others, depending on how they are harvested and processed, but caffeinated teas should generally be avoided at night.


  • Alcohol is good at putting us to sleep, but it makes our sleep more restless. Also, a few hours after ingestion, the alcohol becomes a substance that can act as a stimulant, so 3-5 hours after falling asleep, you may be wide awake, tired, and unable to fall asleep.

Milk and cookies

  • Healthier options might be better for you, but the sugar gives you the immediate satisfaction and the starch keeps you from being hungry during the night. The milk is relaxing and soothing, but there probably isn't enough tryptophan to have a measurable effect. Warm milk might take you back to your childhood and sooth you. This could add to the high fat diet problem.


  • Chocolate has some caffeine, might or might not be enough to affect your sleep. Again a high fat snack late at night.

A glass of wine

  • There is probably not enough alcohol in one glass of wine after dinner to cause problems for sleep. Of course, some people are more sensitive to alcohol, though.

Herbal infusions

  • These are really not teas, since they have no tealeaves, but they are called infusions. Chamomile and valerian are commonly used to help with sleep and may help because of their relaxing and calming qualities. You need to be careful, since some plants are stimulating rather than relaxing, and people's bodies react to different plants in different ways, but in general, herbal teas are probably okay at night.


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