How to sleep: Avoid chillies, chocolate, cheese, sugar and saturated fats

How to sleep: Avoid chillies, chocolate, cheese, sugar and saturated fats 46

Sleep loss can be chalked up to many causes but a common charge is the stresses and strains of modern-day living. While this may hold some kernel of truth, it is an unhelpful way to approach it as you cannot change the status quo. A more manageable approach is to focus on your daily rituals to identify potential triggers within your grasp.

Diet is an often overlooked yet common cause of sleep loss, and certain foods can hinder the body’s ability to unwind.

According to Rob Hobson, head of nutrition at Healthspan and author of The Detox Kitchen Bible, here are five of the culprits:


According to Hobson, this is a particular problem for women during the menopause.

He explains: “Spicy food can also trigger hot flushes in women during the menopause which will of course interfere with sleep.”

READ MORE: How to sleep: Four tips to stop you waking up in the night


According to Hobson, cheese contains high amounts of the amino acid tyramine which can be a trigger for migraines.

“This amino acid also causes the release of a hormone called norepinephrine which can stimulate the brain, and this may interrupt sleep alongside other factors of seep hygiene,” he adds.

It is therefore wise to heed the old wives’ tale and avoid cheese too close to bedtime.

Sugary breakfast cereals

As Hobson notes, this doesn’t just apply to cereals because any food with a high sugar content can disrupt the sleep-cycle, but cereal is a popular snack before bedtime.

As Hobson explains: “Eating high amounts of sugar across the day has the potential to impact on your sleep quality and can pull you out of the stage of deep sleep during the night.”

Food high in saturated fats

Foods that are high in saturated fats, such as greasy burgers can take a long time to digest in the gut and this can exacerbate heartburn as more stomach acid is released, warns Hobson.

Eating such foods close to bed is likely to make the effect more pronounced, he says.

To stay on the safe side, you should opt for lighter foods and stick to high-protein, low-fat foods with plenty of vegetables.

As Hobson notes, protein helps to stimulate bile which can help with digestion and low fat/veggies are more easily and quicker digested to make heartburn a little less likely.

“These foods can also promote weight gain and obesity which are risk factors for sleep apnoea which is a factor that can keep overweight individuals awake at night,” he adds.

Sleep apnoea, a condition which causes inconsistent and interrupted breathing, is surprisingly common.

One review claimed that 24 percent of men and nine percent of women have sleep apnea.

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