If you’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, what you eat before you go to bed could be responsible. This is because your diet can have a profound effect on the quality and quantity of your sleep. People who adopt a low-fiber diet, eating high quantities of saturated fats and sugar, are more likely to suffer from insomnia and interrupted sleep throughout the night.
Of course, changing your diet may not be all that is required to cure a major sleep disorder like insomnia, especially if there are underlying causes of the condition. In any case, here are the worst foods to eat before you go to bed.
Foods and drinks that contain caffeine
You probably know why you shouldn’t be drinking coffee before you go to bed. However, according to a study, drinking coffee in the late afternoon or evening is just as bad because the caffeine content can remain in your system for several hours. In fact, it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine in your system to be eliminated. This means that if you drink coffee or coffee-flavored treats such as cappuccino-flavored ice cream, it can disrupt your sleep for up to six hours after.
Although dark chocolate contains serotonin which can make you feel relaxed, it contains theobromine which is known to increase heart rate and cause sleeplessness. Dark chocolate also contains the highest concentration of chocolate among all the different types of chocolate. As mentioned earlier, it can take several hours after consuming caffeine for it to be eliminated from your body. And although milk chocolate on the other hand doesn’t contain theobromine, it can actually make you feel more awake because of the caffeine content. This is why the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends avoiding chocolate before bedtime.
As many as 20 percent of American use alcohol including wine, beer and liquor as a sleep aid to help them fall asleep faster. You may drop off faster, but this can be counter-productive and actually make your sleeping difficulties worse. This is because while you may fall asleep faster, it will affect the quality of your sleep because you are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night and get less deep sleep. Alcohol is known to block REM sleep, which is considered the most restorative type of sleep. When you get less REM sleep, you’re likely to wake up feeling disoriented.
According to research conducted by sleep researchers in America and Australia, foods high in fat can seriously undermine the quality of your sleep and lead to poor, fragmented sleep. Having a cheeseburger and fries shortly before you go to bed will keep you awake because it will trigger the digestive processes, and cause a buildup of stomach acids. Our bodies require two and a half to four hours to completely digest most meals. A high fat diet also affects the production of orexin, one of the neurotransmitters that helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle along with melatonin.
Spicy foods are delicious, and many have many noted health benefits. However, eating spicy foods before bedtime is a very bad idea because having a spicy meal just before bed can raise your body temperature which can have negative effects on your quality of sleep. According to a study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology, people who ate spicy meals shortly before going to bed had restless nights and disrupted sleep patterns. Furthermore, spicy foods are notorious for causing heartburn, which can be made worse while lying down.
Foods high in protein
Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. It is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. However, protein is tougher for the digestive system to break down. Consequently, eating certain foods high in protein such as red meat too close to bedtime will be disruptive to your sleep because your body will be working on digestion rather than focusing on sleeping.
Foods containing water
Foods such as watermelon, grapes, celery, berries, cucumber and asparagus are natural diuretics that help push water through your system. Eating these types of foods too close to bedtime can be disruptive to your sleep by waking you up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.