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The unexpected ingredients you could be losing sleep over.

| By Bed Threads | Journal

9 Surprising Foods That May Give You Nightmares

The unexpected ingredients you could be losing sleep over.

We all know how disruptive a bad night’s sleep can be. It makes us snap at our favourite barista, more likely to forget our keys while rushing out the door, and generally ‘fuzzy’ once we arrive at the office.

Waking up in a sweat from an oh-so-real nightmare can throw a restful sleep out the window. But, have you ever considered what might be causing these frightening night terrors?

While evidence that food directly affects dreaming is scarce, a study conducted by researchers Tore Nielsen and Russell A. Powell found there are certain foods and ingredients that were affecting people's sleeping experiences differently.

It is not to say all of these foods will affect every person's sleep the same, these were the food items that appeared to cause the biggest disturbances in sleeping patterns during their study.

If you are concerned about your health, wellbeing, or sleep, your first port of call should be your GP, who will advise a correct treatment plan.

1. Cheese

Alright, you’ve probably heard about this one before. Common folklore has labelled cheese as a nightmare-inducing food for decades. So, why should you avoid a quatro formaggio pizza right before bed? Scientists reveal cheese contains an essential amino acid called tryptophan, which is said to help you enter deeper states of rest. Although nightmares aren’t guaranteed, you’re more likely to experience vivid or unsettling dreams if you’re falling into a deep sleep state.

2. Hot sauce

Sriracha might be everyone’s go-to condiment to spice up a lacklustre dinner. However, it might be time to put down the sauce bottle. Studies have revealed that spicy foods are more difficult for our digestive system to process. When our body is working hard to digest food late into the night, the chance of disrupted sleep and even night terrors can increase too. Our advice? Save this one for brunch instead.

3. Chocolate

Sweet tooths, this one might be hard to stomach. Chocolate has been frequently cited as a key culprit of unsettled or bizarre dreams. It’s believed the combination of high levels of caffeine and dairy make this sweet snack a no-go before bed. The National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding chocolate before bedtime. But, if you can’t skip dessert why not give dark chocolate or cacao nut bars a try?

4. Spicy curry

On a cold winter evening, curling with a bowl of chicken tikka masala sounds pretty close to ideal. Oh, and don’t forget a side of garlic naan and even a few samosas for good measure. If you’re looking to ditch the bad dreams, however, you might need to reconsider your culinary choices. Packed with plenty of spice, curries are known to disrupt our digestive system while we sleep and can lead to not-so-nice dreams.

5. Pasta

Carbonara, lasagna, and pesto are often our answer to a bad day at work. Pair with a glass of red and an episode (or four) of your favourite Netflix show for an ultimate cosy night in. However, these carb-heavy dishes are known to cause nightmares that interrupt our sleep. Why? Because pasta converts to glucose in the body and has the same negative impact as consuming sugar right before bed.

6. Ice cream

We’ll be the first to admit we’ve left the house at 8pm on a Tuesday night just for a scoop of Messina. Who could resist a mid-week sampling of their decadent gelato selection? Sadly, these sugary, dairy-filled concoctions aren’t ideal for a restful night’s sleep. With so much unused energy pulsing around your body, broken sleep and nightmares are much more likely to occur.

7. Milk

By now, it’ll come as no surprise to see this next item on the list. Containing plenty of dairy, milk is known to help you enter deep levels of sleep. The downside? You’ll also be more likely to encounter a frightening night terror too. We suggest switching this out for a plant-based alternative such as almond, cashew or oat milk.

8. Bread

Whether smothered in peanut butter or loaded with smashed avo, bread is the beloved base of some of our most popular meals. But, why should we shy away from having a few slices before bed? Similar to pasta, bread is a carb-heavy food that can be difficult for the body to digest. Consuming high GI foods can cause blood sugar to rise rapidly, resulting in the release of insulin, which affects tryptophan and serotonin levels.

9. Chips

Baked, grilled or fried, chips are undoubtedly a bar snack we all adore. And these days, the options of toppings and dipping sauces are endless. Did someone say truffle salt? However, eating too many before bed can give your digestive system an unwanted workout that may lead to a less than restful sleep.

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