Africa-Press – Botswana. Many times, a good sleep is what you want after a long, crazy, hard day. The rule of the thumb is to not have a heavy meal before bedtime. However, there are some foods that must also be avoided before bedtime.
Many times, we are advised to drink as much water in order to stay hydrated. However, it is not good to drink a lot of water or any other fluids before going to bed.
“Not that it is dangerous but because it interrupts your sleep. You will not rest properly through the night since you have to often use the bathroom,” Amanda Twebaze, a nutritionist, says.
Chocolate and coffee
Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains caffeine. The caffeine stimulant contained in the chocolate improves mental agility, reduces fatigue and speeds up our metabolism, functions not needed when one is going to sleep.
Morning coffee gives us an extra dose of energy throughout the day and if we should not have chocolate before going to sleep, coffee less still because they both contain the caffeine stimulant of the central nervous system.
“Many people feel energised 15 minutes after taking a cup of coffee and it takes a total of six hours for the body to eliminate half of the caffeine in a cup of coffee. Therefore, drinking coffee before you sleep is likely to keep you from sleeping at all,” Twebaze says.
A few bottles of beers or several glasses of wine will not only leave you with a hangover the next day but also affect your pattern of sleep. Although some people think that they fall asleep quicker when they drink alcohol, alcohol consumption reduces the duration of the known REM phase; a phase of rapid eye movements, dreams and bodily movements which is the phase of sleep during which our body recovers and prepares to stay awake the next day. You will, therefore, not get enough sleep but also struggle to wake up the next day.
Spicy, oily food
When we sleep, digestion slows down but digesting spicy food needs extra effort. It will, therefore, take one more time to fall asleep after consuming oily foods. Eating spicy foods before sleep disrupts the continuity of sleep keeping you awake for several hours through the night. Spicy meals also increase body temperature while overly salted ones will make us wake up at night because of thirst.
If you are finding it hard to fall asleep, it is recommended that you take a warm glass of milk (a protein) to help you fall asleep easier. However, Twebaze discourages eating heavy proteins such as red meat before sleep because they require a lot of energy to be digested while one is sleeping.
Cauliflower and broccoli
Fruits and vegetables are good recommendations that can be eaten any time except cauliflower and broccoli. This is because these contain an amino acid, tryptophan, which regulates sleep by regulating serotonin, a sleep hormone. These vegetables, Twebaze says, are not recommended before sleep.
Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, green leafy vegetables, celery, squash and kidney beans also contain fibre, which makes them hard to digest as one goes to sleep. Also, acidic fruits and vegetables such as oranges, raw tomatoes can cause discomfort due to heartburn.
Many cereals contain sugars and eating them when you are going to sleep means an increase in blood sugar levels because they are not going to be used by the body.
“When the blood sugar levels begin to fall, the sensation of sleep will begin, but our body will try to continue compensating for the excess blood sugar and that will affect the REM phase, so we will wake up feeling tired. So, if you are to eat cereals, avoid the varieties that have added sugars and choose whole grains with complex carbohydrates,” Twebaze advises.