How food and drug intake affects sleep

How food and drug intake affects sleep

Author: Canadian Living


How food and drug intake affects sleep

According to author Dr. Meir Kryger, a person's daily medication intake and nutritional habits can be a determining factor in how well they sleep at night.

Kryger, author of Can't Sleep, Can't Stay Awake: A Woman's Guide to Sleep Disorders joined Balance Television host Dr. Marla Shapiro to talk about the effects of medication and which foods are good -- and those not so good -- for getting a good night's rest.


Liver, artichockes and spinach contain a lot of iron, Kryger said. Iron is important, especially for women who are menstruating or pregnant, because iron deficiency can cause sleep problems, including restless leg syndrome.

To learn more about good sources of iron from registered dietitian Leslie Beck, read Avoiding iron deficiency.


For allergy sufferers, non-drowsy antihistamines are best. The previous generation of allergy medications often caused individuals to become extremely sleepy, which caused them to be so groggy during the day that they were dysfunctional.

Caffeine in Medications

Many medications, including those for menstrual cramps and headaches, contain caffeine. Some, Kryger says, have as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. People need to read the labels -- especially the fine print -- because some of them can keep you awake.

Weight Control Pills and Decongestants

"These medications, which basically shrink blood vessels, can actually keep you awake and very often on the labels it will say ‘non-drowsy formula' or you can use this during the daytime," Kryger said. "And if someone uses a medication like this and can't sleep, the cause is probably the medication."

For all medications, be sure to read the label. If you're unsure of the ingredients listed, ask the pharmacist.

Beer and Wine

Some people will use alcohol to help them to fall asleep. Kryger says this is a bad thing to do. As alcohol is metabolized, a drop in the level of alcohol actually arouses someone and wakes up the nervous system.

"Although you think it may help you fall asleep, three to four hours later it's going to wake you up and you'll have trouble falling asleep again."

Soft Drinks

Avoid these at night, Kryger advises. They have a lot of caffeine and many people don't make the connection that what they're drinking is what's keeping them awake.


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How food and drug intake affects sleep