February 24, 2024

Nightmares become less common as we grow older, but some people may experience more bad dreams than others. Dreams about being chased by demons, falling off a building, getting trapped somewhere, or the death of a loved one can be distressing for people. Not only do they disrupt your sleep, but they also increase your stress levels, making you feel miserable. One might also experience frequent nightmares on a particular day. The reasons could range from stress to spicy or high-fat food at dinner time. Many times drinking a glass of water could bring people some relief from distressing dreams. Health experts, however, suggest eating certain foods and avoiding others at night to reduce the chances of nightmares. (Read also: Experts on the Surprising Causes of Frequent Nightmares)


Many people suffer from nightmare disorder, also known as dream anxiety disorder, in which sleep is hampered by frequent nightmares. (Shutterstock)



“Nightmares can be distressing and disrupt our sleep patterns, causing us to wake up feeling anxious and uneasy. While there are many factors that can contribute to nightmares, including stress, anxiety, medications and sleep disturbances, our diet can play a role too. an important role in influencing the content of our dreams,” says Dt. Ankita Ghoshal Bisht, Lead Dietitian, Primus Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi. (Read also: What is lucid dreaming; 5 amazing benefits and facts that will blow your mind)

While there is no clear evidence linking specific foods to nightmares, there are certain foods and drinks that can disrupt sleep and increase the likelihood of experiencing nightmares,” says Sameena Ansari – Senior Dietitian & Nutritionist, CARE Hospitals, Hi-Tec City, Hyderabad.



Ankita Ghoshal Bisht and Sameena Ansari share foods to eat and avoid to prevent nightmares with HT Digital.

Foods to eat to prevent nightmares

1. Complex Carbs: Eating complex carbohydrates before bed can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which can reduce the likelihood of nightmares. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include brown bread, brown rice and sweet potatoes.

2. Calcium Rich Foods: Calcium has been found to have a calming effect on the body, so consuming calcium-rich foods before bed can help reduce the risk of nightmares. Good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, and leafy greens like 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, which is a neurotransmitter involved in sleep regulation. Foods high in vitamin B6 include bananas, nuts, poultry, fish and whole grains.

5. Herbal teas: Drinking a cup of chamomile, valerian root or lavender tea before bed can promote relaxation and improve the quality of sleep.

Foods to avoid to prevent nightmares

1. Alcohol: Drinking alcohol before bed can disrupt sleep and lead to nightmares. Alcohol has been found to increase the amount of time spent in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the sleep stage associated with dreaming.

2. Spicy Foods: Eating spicy foods before bed can raise your body temperature and heart rate, which can lead to sleep disturbances and nightmares.



3. Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can disrupt sleep and lead to nightmares. It is best to avoid caffeine-containing foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, and chocolate in the hours leading up to bedtime.

4. High Fat Foods: Eating high-fat foods before bed can lead to indigestion and discomfort, which can disrupt sleep and lead to nightmares. It’s best to avoid heavy, fatty meals in the evening and instead opt for lighter, healthier options.

5. Sugary Foods: Consuming foods high in sugar before bedtime can cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, leading to sleep disturbances and nightmares.

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