Nightmares become less common as we get older, but some people may experience worse nightmares than others. Dreams of being chased by demons, falling off a building, being trapped somewhere or a loved one dying can be distressing for people. They not only disturb sleep but also increase stress levels, which makes a person feel miserable. May also experience frequent nightmares on a particular day. Causes can range from stress to a spicy or high-fat meal at dinner. Drinking a glass of water several times can give people some relief from painful dreams. However, health experts recommend eating certain foods at night and avoiding others at night. (Also read: (Experts on Surprising Causes of Frequent Nightmares)
“Nightmares can be painful and disrupt our sleep patterns, making us feel anxious and uncomfortable. Many factors can contribute to nightmares, including stress, anxiety, medications, and sleep disorders, but our diet can also play a role. In influencing our dream content role,” says Dt. Ankita Ghoshal Bisht, Dietitian Incharge, Primus Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi. (Also read: What is lucid dreaming; (5 Surprising Benefits and Facts That Will Blow Your Mind)
“While there is no clear evidence linking specific foods to dreams, there are certain foods and drinks that can disrupt your sleep and increase your chances of experiencing nightmares,” says Samina Ansari – Senior Dietitian and Nutritionist, Care Hospital, Hi-Tech City , Hyderabad.
Ankita Ghoshal Bisht and Samina Ansari share with HT Digital the foods to avoid nightmares.
Foods to Avoid Nightmares
1. Complex carbohydrates: Eating complex carbohydrates before bed helps stabilize blood sugar, which can reduce the likelihood of nightmares. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include whole-grain bread, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.
2. Foods rich in calcium: Calcium is known to have a calming effect on the body, so eating calcium-rich foods before bed can help reduce the risk of nightmares. Good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, and leafy greens such as spinach and kale.
3. Foods Rich in Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps promote sleep and relaxation. Foods high in tryptophan include turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds.
4. Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 helps the body produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in sleep regulation. Foods high in vitamin B6 include bananas, nuts, poultry, fish, and whole grains.
5. Herbal tea: Drinking a cup of chamomile, valerian root, or lavender tea before bed can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.
Foods you should eat to avoid nightmares
1. Alcohol: Drinking alcohol before bed can disrupt sleep and cause nightmares. Alcohol has been found to increase the amount of time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage of sleep that involves dreaming.
2. Spicy Foods: Eating spicy food before bed can increase body temperature and heart rate, leading to sleep disturbances and nightmares.
3. Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can disrupt sleep patterns and cause nightmares. It’s best to avoid caffeinated foods and drinks like coffee, tea, and chocolate before bedtime.
4. High-fat foods: Eating high-fat foods before bed can cause indigestion and discomfort, which can disrupt sleep and cause nightmares. It’s best to avoid heavy, greasy meals in the evening and opt for lighter, healthier options instead.
5. Sugary foods: Eating high-sugar foods before bed can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, leading to sleep disturbances and nightmares.