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5 great foods for counting sheep

Last updated on: September 24, 2014 12:11 IST

Struggling with sleep? Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, lists out five foods that can disturb your sleep severely.


We know that certain life-style habits can keep us awake. But not many know that food choices can also hit our sleep severely.

We know about the more common culprits -- caffeine and chocolates. But there are other foods that have a similar, if not worse, impact on our sleep patterns.

These include a night cap or a rich spread of proteins at dinner time. Slurping over a rich spread of desserts or drooling over tongue-curling spicy food can also disturb your sleep.

Overly spicy foods keep your stomach acids churning, cause acid reflux and body heat that keeps you awake or disturbed.

Photograph: Phil Hearing/Creative Commons



The night cap is not the soothing accessory to a good night's sleep. If you drink too close to your sleep time, chances of a disturbed night are more than possible.

Having alcohol too close to bed time creates dehydration. The will make you parched, which will in turn wake you up. It also makes you wants to go to the loo, which means you have to wake up to attend nature's call.

Plus, since blood alcohol is in a way a stimulant, it is likely to keep certain parts of your nervous system awake, affecting complete rest.

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This one is simple. Too much sugar in the blood will spike blood sugar levels and sugar is a stimulant.

On the other hand, when there is a dip in blood sugar, the body will be startled into waking up.

This can be extremely disturbing.

You may not make the connection as to why you suddenly feel so wide awake in the middle of the night.

Desserts at night must be light, and should be consumed with adequate gap between meal and sleep time.

Photograph: Ginny/Creative Commons



Who would think the innocuous water can disturb sleep?

But those who drink too much water before sleep time are most likely to keep waking up several times during the night to pass urine.

Also, it's likely that blood sugar levels thin with too much water intoxication, causing the sleep disturbing blood sugar dip.

The trick would be to pace the water-drinking throughout the day and not to drink too much around bed-time.

Photograph: Kit/Creative Commons

Salty and spicy food


The other extreme is where people eat extremely salty or spicy food.

Spicy food makes you sweat a lot, leading to dehydration; salty food is naturally dehydrating too.

Usually, those who eat salty food also like their food spicy.

So, it is invariably a lethal combination as far as sleep is concerned.

When you feel parched, the body will wake you up, to reach you for the relief of cooling water.

This disturbing need could occur several times during the night, making you feel fatigued and sleep-deprived the next day.

Photograph: Reyner Media/Creative Commons

High-protein foods


Proteins with high tryptophan (a type of amino acid) help you sleep better. But not all proteins are made alike.

Tryptophan rich foods are dairy and white meat, like turkey.

Other types of protein found in red meat actually have the opposite effect.

They contain amino acids which block the relaxing, soothing role of tryptophan.

Not only that, they also create a cascade of reactions that ends up exciting the nervous system.

They also require a lot of effort from the digestive tract, exhausting the system and not allowing it to fully relax, thus disturbing your sleep.

Photograph: Tuchodi/Creative Commons

Images used here for representational purposes only!

Shameem Akthar