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Sleep Disorders

Updated 11 August 2014

9 foods that keep you awake

If you have difficulty falling asleep, or difficulty getting back to sleep, or wake up exhausted every morning, your diet may be to blame.

Do you dread bedtime, because you spend hours tossing and turning? If you have difficulty falling asleep, or difficulty getting back to sleep, or wake up exhausted every morning, your diet may be to blame.

  • bacon
  • cheese
  • sugar and sweet foods
  • ham 
  • tomatoes
  • caffeinated drinks
  • large amounts of any liquids
  • any greasy foods
  • spicy foods

  • Depression
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Medication
  • Chronic disorders, including sleep disorders
  • Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol
  • Lack of exercise

What you eat, how much, and most importantly, when you eat, may all contribute to the quality of your sleep, say the researchers. Heavy eating, especially during the holiday season, can cause indigestion and heartburn. Try to slow down on greasy, sweet or spicy foods. And avoid heavy meals near bedtime.

  • Stimulants like caffeine (cola, chocolate, coffee). Caffeine is best avoided from two to six hours before bed time.
  • Nicotine. Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant, so smoking before bed time is not recommended.
  • Alcohol. The tradition of a ''nightcap" before bed time also causes sleepless nights. Alcohol is a sedative, so you'll probably sleep better for an hour or so. However, specialists warn that the body processes alcohol quickly, so the effect soon wears off. This means remaining rest can be fragmented. You'll wake up frequently. Best is to avoid alcohol for at least two hours before retiring.
  • Other fluids. Avoid drinking too much of anything shortly before bed time as doing so increases the likelihood that you'll have to get up during the night to urinate.

 

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Sleep disorders expert

Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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