Disruptions to the body’s natural sleep cycle will leave you tossing and turning in bed. But what actually is the sleep cycle, and can eating certain foods really throw it off?
There are five different stages of sleep, and we spend varying amount of time in each one. The first stage is the most delicate one, in which people easily fall in and out of sleep. Stage two (the longest phase) is defined by slowing eye movements and brain waves as the body readies itself for stages three and four, also known as “deep sleep.” The last sleep stage is REM (rapid eye movement), in which where sleepers experience their most vivid and realistic dreams. The entire sleep cycle takes around 110 minutes to complete and is then repeated throughout the night.
Though stages three, four, and REM offer the most restorative sleep; it’s stage one that is most susceptible to disruption. Factors that may jar someone awake can be physical, such as back pain, joint pain, or headaches; medical, such as asthma; or psychiatric, such as depression, anxiety, or stress. But the foods and beverages we consume (and when we consume them) also affect how well we sleep.
There are a number of unexpected foods that, when eaten after 5 p.m., may disrupt our sleep cycles. For example, because of their insoluble fiber, healthy vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower force the body to complete a rigorous digestion process that may make it difficult to fall asleep. Beans, dairy, and other foods that cause gas and bloating can also contribute to a restless sleep.
If you can’t sleep, stop eating these 10 foods after 5 p.m.