There are many factors that can affect your sleep quality. Things like the temperature of the room, the brightness and outside noise all play a role in how well you sleep at night. If you’re like me, you’re a grump if you don’t get enough sleep, so controlling these factors is important. There’s another important factor that often gets overlooked. The food you eat before bed can either help or hurt you when it comes to getting your zzz’s on. Foods high in fat, protein and sodium can keep you tossing and turning, while other foods can basically tuck you in at night. For a good night’s rest, check out this list of foods to avoid before bedtime!
Forget what you’ve heard about how the tryptophan in turkey makes you sleepy on Thanksgiving—you can blame your food coma on the massive portions you gobbled down. In fact, turkey on any other day might actually keep you awake. The protein signals the brain to produce dopamine, the “motivation molecule” that gives you energy. You might want to avoid chicken and steak close to bedtime, but there’s still a way to get your protein fix. “Game meat and salmon are higher in melatonin,”. “Those are good for sleep.”
We get it. Sometimes a bowl of cereal at bedtime is just the thing. But you’re better off sticking with a low-sugar, high-fiber kind, like Cheerios or bran flakes. Sugary cereals digest rapidly in your system, so the spike in blood sugar could throw off some of your sleep hormones, and low-fiber diets are linked to lighter sleep. Your best bet might be to forgo the food and just get some z’s — when you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re more apt to seek energy by eating more food (especially sugar).
The same could be said for anything fried, really, but we couldn’t really conjure a reason you’d be snacking on fried fish after dark. The high fat content of French fries and other fried foods is difficult for your digestion, and can prevent you from comfortably lying down to fall asleep.
Although a few spoonfuls of ice cream might taste like pure bliss before bed, this indulgent treat will force your stomach into overdrive trying to digest the abundance of fats and carbs while you’re inactive. Late night ice cream sends your blood sugar levels up and down – an instability guaranteed to disrupt your sleep. Your body will store the energy from the ice cream instead of using it. Avoid this temptation before catching some zzzs or risk packing on pounds!
Pasta is one of the best foods to eat if you’re hungry because a little bit goes a long way. The issue with eating pasta late at night, however, is that it’s such a fatty food that it will almost certainly lead to weight gain while you sleep. The carbohydrates in pasta turn to fat pretty quickly, so if you’re trying to eat healthy at night you’ll definitely want to look elsewhere.
A glass or two of wine may help you fall asleep, but it won’t be restful. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, studies have consistently shown that having a drink or two within an hour of bedtime increases wakefulness during the second—and most important—half of the sleep cycle. You’re likely to wake up and not be able to get back to sleep readily, leaving you exhausted (and hungry) the next day.
The sneaky devil—which can carry up to a quarter of the caffeine you’d find in an average cup of joe—also contains amino acid that makes you alert, similar to the one found in cured meats and cheeses. Basically, dark chocolate is double the energy, making it a much better snack for the afternoon than the middle of the night.