Stress and sleeplessness are common bedfellows – no pun intended! Since stress and sleeplessness are interdependent, they can form a vicious cycle – a lack of sleep increases stress levels and these high stress levels then trigger insomnia. Most of us know that eating a large dinner will result in a sleepless night, but did you know that there are also certain foods that increase the risk of insomnia. Here’s how your diet might be affecting your stress levels and your sleep.
Foods That Can Cause Stress & Insomnia
There are several commonly consumed foods that can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. All you need to do is make a few adjustments to your diet and you will soon enjoy 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Here are a few of the most common foods that cause stress and insomnia.
1. Bread, Sugar, & Other Refined Carbs
“Bread & sugar are very high in refined carbs & have been linked to elevated levels of stress hormones as well as disturbed sleep”
If you have several slices of bread along with your dinner, you might want to switch to chapatti or roti instead. Bread is high in refined carbs, which causes a blood sugar spike and increases the production of the hormone cortisol, which is closely linked to stress. Furthermore, foods that are high in refined carbs are difficult to digest and are likely to cause digestive problems such as acidity and bloating, which interferes with sleep.
2. Coffee & Colas
“Caffeine is a stimulant that can remain in your system for 16-24 hours after consumption”
Coffee and colas are high in caffeine, which acts as a stimulant and interferes with sleep patterns. This is why most people avoid caffeine in the night. But caffeine can remain in your system for 16-24 hours, which means that even if you have a cup of coffee in the morning, it can still keep you up at night! Caffeine has also been linked to stress and anxiety and so you are more likely to spend your sleepless night stressing out about work, financial, or family problems.
3. Leafy Greens
“Leafy greens can cause bloating and excessive urination which will disturb your sleep”
Leafy greens such as spinach and fenugreek (methi) are very healthy and they should be a part of your diet. But you should avoid leafy green veggies at night and only consume them earlier in the day. Leafy greens have a high fluid and fiber content – the high water content will make you wake up to pee several times during the night and all that fiber can cause bloating, which makes it tougher for you to fall asleep.
How To Shut Off Your Brain Before Bedtime
One of the main reasons for insomnia today is blue light emission from smartphones, which acts as a stimulant and keeps you awake. Keep your smartphone aside for at least an hour before you retire to bed. Stick to a regular sleep time so that you get accustomed to a regular sleep pattern, as this will decrease your risk of insomnia. A regular bedtime routine will help you de-stress at the end of a long day, which means that you will fall asleep quickly. A short yoga session just before bed will help to relax your muscles and clear your mind so that you can let go of your day and completely surrender to sleep!
It is important to avoid foods that cause insomnia, but don’t make several drastic changes to your diet all at once as you might find it tough to stick to your plan. Instead, make one small change every week so that you slowly move towards a schedule that reduces stress and promotes relaxation. To make life a little easier, you can even try including some foods that encourage sleep at night.