Your diet may be to blame for you feeling fatigue during the day
What you eat and how you sleep go hand in hand. Certain foods and beverages will perk you up, while others will send your brain scrambling to find the nearest place to sleep. And it’s not just huge meals and fast food grub that can cause you to nod off midday, Seemingly healthy foods can make you drowsy, too. If you’ve been feeling exceptionally tired after meals lately, you may want to consider limiting these five foods during the day.
The fruit is naturally high in the hormone melatonin, which controls your sleep and wake cycles. The extra dose of melatonin can send a signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep, so save cherries (as well as tart cherry juice, which also has high amounts of melatonin) for an after-dinner snack instead of munching on them midday.
Carbs cause your blood glucose levels to jump quickly (that’s why you get a sudden burst of energy). But when these glucose levels start to drop back down, you’ll likely experience an energy crash that will leave you ready for a nap. Processed carbs (like white bread) are especially problematic, while whole grain breads are less likely to leave you feeling sluggish.
It may be a favorite for breakfast, but you might want to pair a bowl of oatmeal with some coffee to make it through the day. “Grains in oatmeal trigger insulin production much like whole-grain bread,” says Cynthia Pasquella, CCN, CHLC, CWC. “They raise your blood sugar naturally and make you feel sleepy. Oats are also rich in melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps you fall asleep.”
You’ve known this guy for years. He’s gotten you through countless all-nighters and pepped you up for that 8 a.m. Monday morning presentation. But did you know that caffeine isn’t actually giving your body any energy? “Though caffeine does provide us with that feeling of alertness, it’s just a stimulant,” says Michelle Dudash, registered dietician, chef, and freelancer writer.
Just a handful of these and you’ll be dozing off in no time. Pasquella says almonds contain tryptophan and magnesium, which both help to naturally reduce muscle and nerve function while also steadying your heart rhythm.
If a nap is in your future, steer clear of Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, and other hard cheeses (basically, all the yummy smelly ones!). The high levels of the amino acid tyramine are known to keep you up.
Honey contains glucose, which tells your brain to shut off orexin — the chemical known to trigger alertness. “Be careful not to overdo it,” warns Pasquella. “One tablespoon for a good night’s sleep is plenty.”
Hot tamale! Those hot wings may taste damn good during the football game, but they aren’t going to feel so great come bedtime — especially if you’re prone to heartburn, since lying down only amps up its side. Make sure you eat your favorite hot foods early enough in the day to prevent a sleepless night later.
Processed or Smoked Meats
Leave this one on the deli counter. Pasquella says processed meats contain high levels of tyramine and makes the brain release a chemical that makes us feel alert. These meats also aren’t the healthiest ones to munch on either, sleep patterns aside.
Carbs are your best friend and your worst enemy. Simple carbs like candy and soda are great for a quick boost of energy, says Dr. Oz Garcia, MS, PhD, because they are quickly digested. Carbs like whole grains also tend to spike blood glucose levels but, once the glucose level drops back down, that can lead to an energy crash. This is why carbs are great for working out but not so great
Even though it’s a depressant, alcohol will, oddly enough, keep you up at night. “Many people use alcohol to help them relax, but it actually prevents your body from entering the deep stages of sleep,” says Pasquella.
Tea has tons of snooze-promoting properties. Top ones to lull you to sleep include chamomile, passionflower hops, and lemon balm, say both Garcia and Pasquella.
The average milk chocolate bar contains tyrosine, which is converted into dopamine — a stimulant, says Pasquella. This causes alertness and restlessness, which can keep you up at night.
Don’t worry — you can eat chocolate day and night (whew!). Although milk chocolate is a stimulant, dark chocolate contains serotonin, which relaxes your body and mind. Not to mention the other health benefits dark chocolate has, too.
Have that plate of pasta at least few hours before tucking in at night. Tomato-based foods have a tendency to cause acid reflux and heartburn, which will prevent you from having a good night’s sleep.
Herbal teas are great for sleeping, but steer clear of ginseng. It’s been shown to act as a stimulant, and though some tea drinkers don’t feel any effects from the tea, others experience insomnia and hypertension. If you might fall in this category, avoid drinking it several hours before bed, recommends Pasquella.
This Middle Eastern spread is another great source of tryptophan, says Pasquella. If you find you often wake up in the middle of the night hungry, munch on hummus during the day to stop it. “If you’re waking up hungry in the middle of the night, that usually means you’re not getting enough calories during the day,” says Dudash. “Aim for three small meals, plus two snacks if needed.”
The magnesium and potassium in bananas serve as muscle and nerve relaxants. Dudash says that the vitamin B6 found in the fruit also converts tryptophan into serotonin, increasing relaxation even more.
It’s not just the caffeine in energy drinks that makes you wired, warns Pasquella. Most beverages contain taurine, an amino acid that increases alertness and elevates your heart rate and blood pressure.
Fermented soy products have some of the highest amount of tyramine — meaning soy sauce, tofu, miso, and even teriyaki sauce should be avoided hours before snoozing.
There’s a reason that you feel like hitting the hay after Thanksgiving dinner: Lean proteins like turkey, fish, chicken, and low-fat cheese are high in tryptophan, an amino acid that increases serotonin levels.