Diet plays a major role in a good night sleep.Shivani Sikri lists foods that one should avoid eating at night
The pandemic and work from home for more than a year for most of us has already deeply hampered or rather knocked down the sleeping patterns. Most of the people are not able to follow the right orthodox sleep timings thereby shattering physical and mental health. Here are some foods that should be simply avoided for quality sleep at night.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a false friend of sleep. Certainly, as it causes relaxation of muscle tone, it helps to fall asleep but this same muscle relaxation promotes snoring and the occurrence of respiratory disorders during sleep (apnea) thus making sleep unstable and causing arousals during the night.
- Dark chocolate: Why should you avoid consuming dark chocolate at night? Because it contains stimulants (tyrosine, theobromine, anandamide) which activate the heart and increase the heart rate. Not ideal before bed if you want to fall asleep easily.
- Cold cut meats: Cold meats like sausages, ham, salami and also sauces or even chips should be strictly avoided at night. This cold/frozen meat options and other fatty foods require a lot of energy and time to be digested during sleep. Prolonged digestion can lead to restless sleep. They are therefore to be avoided in the evening.
- Japanese and Chinese dishes: Chinese and Japanese foods should be avoided in the evening because they are rich in sodium glutamate, an amino acid which accelerates the metabolism and provides a boost of energy. Sodium glutamate is also found in industrial ready meals, sauces etc.
- Spicy dishes: Spicy foods are contraindicated in the dinner because they can cause heartburn and bloating, and lead to poor quality sleep. Consuming spicy foods is also associated with an increase in body temperature, another factor leading to poor sleep.
- Ice cream: Ice creams are super high in sugars which stimulates the brain and can keep the body awake for hours. For the same reason, we also avoid cakes, pastries and mithais in excess.
- Cheeses: Cheese have high fat content. They are hence hard to digest after dinner. It is always recommended to eat cheese during the day. With this rationality, it is also prudent to shy off consuming hard legumes like chickpeas, lentils, split peas, etc in the dinner time as they ferment in the intestines and take time to be digested.
- Tomato: Certain vegetables should be avoided in the evening like tomatoes for example. It releases tyramine, an amino acid that causes the production of norepinephrine. This has an impact on digestion, increases brain activity and prevents easy and rapid falling asleep. The same is also the case with brinjal because it is the vegetable that is richest in nicotine resulting in increased heart rate and BP.
- Red meat: The strong proteins of red meat take a long time to digest. Eating red meat in the evening or at dinner may interfere with falling asleep and cause night-time awakenings. In general, at dinner, it is better to prefer light proteins like chicken, turkey, yogurt etc.
The writer is Chief Nutritionist and Co-Founder, Nutri4Verve