Drinking too much caffeine
Caffeine interferes with the action of a chemical known as adenosine, which has soothing properties and builds up in the brain to signal sleep. The stimulant compound can also interfere with circadian rhythms, which can delay the onset of sleep.
In addition to coffee, caffeine is found in tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate.
Consuming a big meal
Fat takes longer to digest and can cause discomfort when lying down. Try avoiding high-fat meals for dinner, and wait at least two hours after eating before going to bed. “And don’t just sit on the couch and watch Netflix (after you eat) — do some stretching and move around a bit,” said Vandana Sheth, a California-based registered dietitian nutritionist who provides counselling about diet and sleep hygiene to clients.
If hunger hits before bedtime, “a light, a low-calorie snack may help to reduce hunger pangs that can disrupt sleep,” said Gary Zammit, executive director of the Sleep Disorders Institute in New York City, via email.
Having too much sugar
Avoid bedtime snacks containing lots of sugar, which can disrupt sleep. “Research suggests that high sugar intakes can predispose postmenopausal women to night sweats,” said Nancy Z. Farrell Allen, a Virginia-based registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Drinking alcohol before bedtime
Having a glass of wine or a nightcap may help you fall asleep, but drinking before bedtime can disturb your sleep during the night, Farrell Allen explained. “It can hamper the amount of deep sleep we get, increase those nightly trips in the middle of the night to the bathroom, and dehydrate us with a resultant headache.”
Not eating enough calories
Some people who severely restrict calories during daytime hours will rebound at night and consume food in the hours just before sleep.
During the sleep period, which can contribute to sleep disturbances, Zammit explained.
“If people experience night eating, they should talk with their doctors about their dietary plan,” he added.
It no doubts can be challenging to switch your habits, but the changes will be well worth it in the long term.