We’ve all been there: it’s nighttime, well after dinner, but your tummy is still rumbling. You’re looking for something satisfying to silence your hunger pangs and help you fall into a cozy, restful slumber. Or maybe it’s been a late night with a few cocktails and now your late-night cravings get the best of you. But before you chow down, you should know that there are actually some foods that disrupt sleep pretty badly that you’ll want to stay away from.
That’s right, there are some foods that can potentially wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. In addition to tacking on extra calories at the end of your day—which can derail weight-loss efforts—eating the wrong food before bed can lead to indigestion and a night of tossing and turning from discomfort. Researchers have even found that eating a diet that is high in sugar, saturated fat and processed carbohydrates can disrupt your sleep, too. So it not only matters what you’re eating later at night, but throughout the day, too.
But now, back to the one food that is the absolute worst to eat before sleeping.
What’s the one food you should never eat before going to sleep?
Pizza. Specifically, pepperoni pizza. And if you love to add peppers or crushed red pepper flakes on your pie, it’s even worse.
So it’s no surprise that eating a lot of dairy at a time right before bed could potentially disrupt your sleep. Skip the pizza before bed so you can get longer, more restful sleep, especially if you also try out any of these 20 Ways to Double Your Sleep Quality. But that’s not all. There are plenty more foods that could easily wreak havoc on your sleep schedule.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that chocolate treat after dinner isn’t doing your REM any favors. “As a nutritionist who also struggles with falling and staying asleep, I know firsthand what can wreak havoc on our sleep cycle,” shares Lisa Hayim, registered dietitian and founder of The WellNecessities. “Chocolate is a hidden source of caffeine. That means taking a forkful of your favorite souffle or chocolate ice cream may be the very thing keeping you up. The caffeine in chocolate causes increased arousal, and decreases the ability to develop and sustain the deeper stages of sleep.”
You probably know white wine can sometimes cause heartburn, but it’s not the only beverage to blame for not being able to sleep. “Alcohol in general relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which normally works to keep the acid down in the stomach,” Hayim explains. “As it relaxes, the acid from the alcohol can enter into your throat, giving you that burning feeling deep in your chest.”
Mitzi Dulan, RD, author of The Pinterest Diet: How to Pin Your Way Thin and former team nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals adds: “Research shows that drinking alcohol before bed can make you more likely to wake up throughout the night and diminishes quality of sleep. We also know alcohol can lead to snoring since it is a potent muscle relaxer.”
3. Hot Sauce
Hot sauce is another food that can keep you up at night. The explanation for this one is a bit different, though: “Hot sauce gets its heat from the compound capsaicin found in chili peppers,” offers Hayim. “Capsaicin can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to stay open for longer than usual, causing intense feelings of heartburn,” she warns. Sounds like an equation for one spicy mess, if you ask us.
There are health benefits of mint, but sleeping well isn’t one of them. “Many people pop peppermints into their mouths after dinner to freshen their breath,” says Hayim. “Some people have it in their tea thinking it will soothe them. But, as it turns out, peppermint is a heartburn trigger. So, definitely stay away from it before bed!”
5. Dried Fruit
Consuming too much dried fruit can bother your stomach and cause you to have gas and cramps during the night, according to nutritionist Lisa DeFazio, MS, RDN. “This is thanks to their high-fiber, low-water content.” Come morning, don’t eat ’em, either. They’re one of the top foods nutritionists wish you would stop adding to your overnight oats.
6. High Sugar Cereals
Pass right by the fruit loops, please. “Eating high-sugar cereals will make your blood sugar spike and crash, which will affect your sleep,” says DeFazio. “Choose cereal with less than five grams of sugar per serving.”
Article by Christina Stiehl. Photo by EatThis,NotThat