a pair of scared, bloodshot eyes surrounded by peppers, onions, shadows, and flames

Spicy Foods and Nightmares

The other night, I was experimenting on a recipe I’ve been perfecting over the last 2 months that tends to be flavorful and has peppers and seasonings in it.

My body typically can’t handle any heat in dishes so I have to be creative in my cooking so I don’t make myself get a fever (I can’t handle ANY heat). That diet is pretty bland but I’ve been trying new dishes as I experiment with trying to be a better chef.

Taking a chance on a new dish

The other night when I was trying out a fajita dish, there were little green peppers and onions - definitely not substances that should have made me have the wild nightmares it gave to me all throughout the night. It even woke up my partner, who would wake me up all night mid-nightmare (I’m so thankful for him).

My sleep issues are far and wide, but for the dish we had, it was wimpy and yet it provided me a night full of vivid, senseless dreams. There are the weeks full of naps at strange times, in various places, to just try and get a small, few minutes of sleep.

Like I mentioned before, I have to be very selective with what I put into my diet, as I have autoimmune diseases and live with Crohn's disease. I rarely eat spicy food. Yes, for me, fajitas are spicy. I also rarely eat vegetables because of my inflammatory bowel disease, but this was a night of trials and errors. Many of both, in the end.

Nightmares, night sweats, and body pain

I fell asleep fast that night. Maybe it was the prep work involved with the recipe I was making or maybe it was just events of the day. Falling asleep right away doesn't naturally happen for me. For me, the nightmares came one after another. I was exhausted. My boyfriend had probably been miserable all night, poor guy. Needless to say, neither one of us got quality sleep that night.

I was in a constant night sweat that night. Off and on, I'd fall asleep and even one-time, experiencing sleep paralysis. It was an awful night and my body hurt incredibly badly the next day. I spent the next morning eating bananas because all I could feel during my episode was leg cramps and toe cramps. What a crummy night. I knew then I might need to back off trying new recipes that would involve certain ingredients for a while, even though I still feel like I have the most boring, bland, repetitive meals.

Does food affect your sleep?

There is an interesting study that involved dark chocolate, lima beans, and papayas as some of their test foods to see if quality and quantity of sleep was involved.1 The results are not surprising to me, but interesting to see the science behind some of the beliefs and disbeliefs that certain food causes insomnia.

Have you ever experienced strange or vivid dreams, even bad dreams or nightmares, when you eat certain foods? How does this tend to affect your overall diet and what you choose to prepare and eat in the kitchen?

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