In the last article on sleep [Increase Your Happiness and Productivity with Better Sleep], I mentioned that certain foods can keep you from getting good quality sleep. When you know what these foods are and avoid them, you’ll have a much better chance of falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting a restful seven to eight hours each night.
Keep in mind that some of the foods on this list are healthy foods, and I’m not saying they should be cut completely from your diet. All I’m saying is that they should be avoided before bedtime.
Please always speak with your physician or health care provider before making significant changes to your diet, particularly if you’re suffering from disease.
Why Sleep is Important
The body utilizes sleep time to restore itself completely so it can operate at optimum levels during waking hours. If something needs to be repaired in the body, it will take place while we are asleep.
People who are dealing with a disease process especially need quality sleep time to correct the problems that are occurring in the body, but also to be able to properly absorb the nutrients coming in through food.
Here are things to do, and foods to avoid, prior to going to bed so that you can ensure the best night’s rest possible…
Don’t Eat Anything at Least 2 Hours Before Bed. When you consume foods or beverages other than water less than 2 hours before laying down to sleep, your body will have to work hard to process the food and drink during sleep time. That time is supposed to be reserved for restoration.
Avoid Oats. Oats are great for breakfast, however when they are eaten at night their high fiber content can lead to digestive irritation, so avoid them in the later parts of the day.
Avoid Leafy Green Vegetables. These foods are natural diuretics and detoxifiers and they’re full of nutrients. However, because of this, they can cause us to wake up in the night to use the restroom. This also includes cabbage and beans. It’s simply easier for these foods to move through the body during the day because we’re up and active.
Avoid Ice Cream. This frosty treat is full of sugar and carbohydrates that act as stimulants. Ice cream contains natural energy, and bedtime is not the right time of day to take in energy.
Avoid Curry. The active component in curries can irritate the stomach, act as a stimulant and harm sleep patterns because they raise the body’s temperature. Waking up because you’re too hot is not helpful to sleep, so be sure to stay away from curry for 2-3 hours before bed.
Avoid Fruit. As beneficial as fruit is to our health, it still contains sugar, which acts as a stimulant that can interrupt sleep patterns. If you like smoothies, move them to earlier hours in the day so your body doesn’t have to fight off the sugar stimulation.
Avoid Cakes, Cookies and Other Processed Sweets. The combination of carbs and sugar in these sweet treats makes it hard for the body to relax. People reach for candy bars at 3 pm when their energy starts to dip because the sugar gets into the blood stream and stimulates everything… so an 8 pm candy bar is definitely not on the menu!
Avoid Red Meat. When eaten close to bedtime, red meat will not be digested properly. Some alternatives to the need for protein could be turkey or yogurt.
Avoid Pizza (and Other Greasy Fatty Foods). French fries, onion rings, nachos and similar greasy foods place a lot of stress on the stomach, especially before bedtime. Heartburn and indigestion can occur, particularly if these greasy foods are combined with beer.
Avoid Dark Chocolate. Now this is a food that has many benefits, however, when it comes to the evening hours it’s best to avoid dark chocolate due to its caffeine content. Eat dark chocolate during the day, as far away from bedtime as possible.
Avoid Alcohol. A nightcap may help you fall asleep, but it will not help you stay asleep. When people consume alcohol before bed, not only do they have trouble staying asleep, but they also wake up feeling more tired the next morning.
Avoid Caffeine. Stay away from caffeine before bed! People don’t realize that caffeine is in a lot of the everyday foods they consume: colas, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, energy drinks, candy bars, and even green tea. If you must have a warm drink before bed, try a hot cup of chamomile tea or hot water with lemon.
If you experience insomnia (or even if you don’t), avoid all the foods on this list before bed for a week and watch your quality of sleep improve drastically!
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Rochel Marie Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS</strong>
The Queen of Feeling Fabulous and The Wellness Architect