If you’re always tossing and turning instead of sleeping, or having nightmares, or sleeping like a baby, it may be related to the food you eat. Your late-night or bedtime snack could be directly affecting the quality of sleep you’re experiencing and the content of the dreams you’re having. If it’s bedtime and you’re craving some cheese or longing for lasagna, are you doomed to face a night of nightmare-filled sleeplessness?
Here are some common types of foods and the effects they have on your body, your mind and your sleep:
In our culture, a diet high in fat is commonly discouraged. Though everyone needs a little bit of fat in their diets, there’s no denying science. When sleeping, our body lowers its temperature in an effort to conserve energy. But eating foods that are fatty significantly raises our body temperature, as our organs work hard to break it down and digest it. So eating fatty foods just before bed throws our body’s natural process out of balance, and causes our body to work extra-hard. This leads to non-restful, fitful sleep and can even result in dreams that are filled with feelings of exhaustion or fever. So maybe save that leftover pizza for lunch.
Sometimes it seems like people are split into just two groups: the ones who love spicy food, and the ones who don’t. The spice level of foods can be a factor when it comes to choosing a restaurant for dinner. And spicy food can also have a direct effect on your dreams. Many people suffer from indigestion after eating spicy foods, causing their dreams to often be plagued by nightmares. So next time you’re dining out but want a peaceful night of sleep later, try to make a less spicy choice.
If your diet is dictated by your sweet-tooth, take a moment to consider how this may be affecting your sleep. Chocolate, candy and other refined sugars can lead to a spike in energy levels. When you’re trying to fall asleep, this is not exactly the easiest obstacle to overcome. Trying to fall asleep during a caffeine high or a sugar rush is disruptive, and your sleep may be tinged by anxious dreams. So try to save those sweets for that point in your day when you need an extra boost of energy.
Depending on your sensitivity, this may be some good news. Foods with dairy might not give you bad dreams. Dairy contains more of the sleeping hormone tryptophan than turkey. If you are not sensitive to dairy, then dairy may be a good snack option for you before you go to bed. But if you have trouble digesting dairy, you should best avoid it whenever you can.
Before you blame your latest bout of bad dreams on your subconscious, you should probably consider what you ate before bed. Learning how your late-night eating habits affect your sleep and your dreams could lead you to make positive diet changes that your whole sense of well-being will be thankful for!