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We’ve all heard the idea that eating cheese before bed will give you nightmares, but is there any truth to this? Indeed, do any foods have the ability to affect how well we sleep at night?

Well, surprisingly, what we eat at night can seriously alter how well we sleep at night. In fact, just a small change in your diet can make all the difference between sleeping like baby or lying wide awake for hours at night.

Perhaps the most obvious foods that are bad for sleeping are anything that contains caffeine. Of course, you’re probably not making a 9pm trip to Starbucks every night, but you might be surprised at just what foods do contain caffeine. Tea, chocolate and fizzy drinks to name a few. Try to avoid these in the evening.

You might think that a boozy night on the town will send you into a drunken slumber; however it actually makes for a disruptive sleep. Since alcohol dehydrates your body you’ll likely experience headaches, night sweats and find yourself waking every hour or so. If you do have any alcohol always try to drink plenty of water before you go to bed.

Spicy foods, which cause stomach upsets, and foods with a high fat content, which are hard to digest, should also be avoided on a regular basis. Both of these foods can also cause heartburn, which will definitely keep you awake at night. 

But it’s not all doom and gloom, there are also foods which you can munch on before bed and still get a great night’s sleep. Bananas are full of magnesium and potassium, which are actually muscle relaxants. Not only that, bananas also contain tryptophan. This amino acid helps your body make more serotonin and melatonin which also act as muscle relaxants and help promote sleep. In fact, many herbal remedies for insomnia work by containing serotonin-producing substances. 

Mix your bedtime banana with some peanut better for even more help to sleep. Like bananas, peanuts and peanut butter contain a substance (niacin) which helps your body produce more serotonin naturally.

Instead of snacking on crisps at night, swap them out for grapes. Grapes contain the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin and are a much healthier snack alternative. If you don’t like grapes then cherries will work just as well.

Almonds are another great snack. Full of all sorts of nutrients, they contain magnesium which will again help you sleep. However avoid eating too many as too many nuts can lead to a sore stomach.

Of course, nothing helps you get to sleep like a big mug of warm milk. Not only will the warm texture make you feel cosy and sleepy, milk is another substance than contains tryptophan that helps produce serotonin and melatonin.

So what about cheese? Well actually cheese contains tryptophan as well so it might actually help you sleep more than it will disturb your sleep. But try not to eat too much cheese before bedtime as you might just find yourself awake with indigestion.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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