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15 Foods That Cause Nightmares

Does food cause nightmares? Are you someone who experiences nightmares frequently? If that disturbs your sleep quality, have you wondered what could be triggering those bad dreams? Nightmares and bad dreams are not just the culmination of your day-to-day activities, anxiety and stress. Yes, it is more than that. The foods you eat before going to sleep plays a major role in causing nightmares and disturbed sleep.

Have you been having bad dreams lately? If so, it is time to control and understand your dinner habits, so that you may sleep peacefully. Researchers have proven a correlation between diets and bad dreams. It is asserted that the involvement of starchy and sweet foods are one of the major reasons contributing to this [1] .

So, if you experience frequent nightmares, it is time you take a closer look at the kind of foods that you eat before hitting the bed. Read on to know the different types of food that need to be avoided before bed, so that you may sleep soundly without nightmares causing a scare.

Foods That Cause Nightmares

1. Cheese

Rich in calories and fat, eating dairy products before going to bed can result in the person having nightmares. This is because the body is still functioning in full-speed to digest the cheese, hindering your sleeping hours with unpleasant thoughts [2] . A 2005 study conducted by the British Cheese Board stands in agreement to the assertion that cheese can induce nightmares.

2. Ice cream

Eating ice cream before bed can cause the body's metabolism to shift which in turn can increase the brain's activity. Your brain gets into a conflict mode not knowing what to do with the excess energy, triggering nightmares [3] .

3. Hot sauce

Studies have revealed that, eating spicy foods before sleep can disturb a sound sleep because the spice in the hot sauce increases your body's temperature; which in turn alters dream formations during your REM cycle [4] . Spicy foods are often linked to nightmares because they require more effort from the body to digest these foods.

4. Alcohol

Drinking excess of wine, beer and other drinks before sleep can make it difficult to fall into a deep sleep. According to a study conducted to understand the impact of alcohol on sleep, it was asserted that, even though alcohol is a sedative, the effects wear off during the night Thereby causing intense and realistic nightmares [4] .

5. Caffeine-laced foods

Consuming coffee, frozen yoghurt and other foods with caffeine can cause the body's metabolism to boost and brain activity to be heightened - disturbing your sleep and causing nightmares [5] .

6. Sugary foods

According to a study, about 31 per cent of the study participants had nightmares after consuming sugary foods. Psychologists too point out that eating sugary foods like cookies, cakes can cause nightmares [6] .

7. Chocolate

After sugary foods and dairy products, chocolate is one of the most frequent causes of nightmares. High in caffeine and sugar, eating chocolate before bed decreases your ability to fall into a deep sleep and cause nightmares [7] . Drinking hot cocoa is also a major cause of bad dreams.

8. Chips

Consumption of greasy junk food can cause irritation in your digestive tract, making it difficult to have a restful sleep. About 12.5% of all disturbing dreams were caused by the consumption of junk foods like chips, as noted by a study [8] .

9. Pasta

Considering the sugar and carbohydrates present in pasta, it is not surprising that pasta falls under this list. Starchy foods like bread and pasta can cause nightmares. This is because they convert to glucose within the body and hence have the same effect as that of sugary foods [6] . Avoid consuming starchy slices of bread as well.

10. Soda

The caffeine and sugar content, as well as the additives present in these fizzy drinks, are the causes of nightmares. Studies have shown that participants who drank soda even during the earlier part of the day were reported of having nightmares, most likely due to its caffeine and sugar content [9] .

View Article References
  1. [1] Aviles, L. Utopian Dream or Dystopian Nightmare: The Cost of Creating an Ideal Society in Early Twenty-First Century America.
  2. [2] Glass, N. (1949). Eating, sleeping, and elimination habits in children attending day nurseries and children cared for at home by mothers.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry,19(4), 697.
  3. [3] Howard, H. (2002).U.S. Patent Application No. 10/075,849.
  4. [4] Koo, L. C. (1984). The use of food to treat and prevent disease in Chinese culture.Social Science & Medicine,18(9), 757-766.
  5. [5] Belasco, W. (1997). Food, morality, and social reform.Morality and health, 185-200.
  6. [6] Russo, E., & Cove, D. (1996).Genetic engineering: dreams and nightmares. Presses Polytechniques et Universitaires Romandes.
  7. [7] Morris, J. G. (1999). Pfiesteria," the cell from hell," and other toxic algal nightmares.Clinical Infectious Diseases,28(6), 1191-1196.
  8. [8] Ho, M. W. (2013). New GM nightmares with RNA.Sci. Soc,58, 6-7.
  9. [9] Oates, C. (2003). Cheese gives you nightmares: Old hags and heartburn.Folklore,114(2), 205-225.
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Story first published: Wednesday, June 12, 2019, 18:30 [IST]