Are you a late-night snacker? As satisfying as it is to surrender to those delicious temptations, you probably already know that, eventually, they will affect your waistline. But you may be surprised to learn that they could be affecting your sleep quality and that there should be foods to avoid before bed.
The human body needs several hours to properly digest food, which means that your rest is impacted when you eat right before bed. Additionally, food high in sugar or caffeine can keep you up and “heavy” foods can lead to indigestion that causes much the same issue.
This disturbed sleep is a problem for several reasons. The primary issue is that sleep is vital to our wellbeing. Without it, our bodies begin to succumb to all sorts of health problems. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased stress levels. Paying attention to your diet, then, is essential to boosting the quality of your sleep.
Let’s look at five foods to avoid before bed.
Cereal is an easy snack to have. All you have to do is pour it in a bowl and you’re ready to go – no involved preparation necessary. That’s probably why it’s a popular option at night when you’re already sleepy. The problem is that many cereals are filled with lots of sugar. This can affect your sleep hormones, making harder to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Oh, ice cream! It’s the favorite amongst late-night snackers because of its cold creaminess. It’s sugar and dairy combination, however, has been known to cause upset stomachs. Ice cream can be heavy and tends to sit right on top of your stomach like a ton of rocks, making it impossible to fall asleep.
Pizza is delicious during dinner hours – but when eaten right before bed? It can cause a disaster. Not only is it greasy, but tomato sauce is acidic. That can make it difficult to digest and leave you in pain (or to the bathroom) throughout the night when you should be sleeping.
Just like acidity from tomato sauce on pizza, spicy foods right before bed can leave you with indigestion. If you are predisposed to heartburn, you’ll be up all night if you have spicy foods before bed. The burning sensation in your chest will make it very difficult to fall or stay asleep.
Some days, it's the knowledge that a glass of wine or cup of whiskey is waiting for you at home that gets you through the day. Though sleepiness can come after one or two glasses, alcohol before bed generally interrupts natural sleep cycles which can make it difficult to stay asleep or even create an unintended dependency.
Sleep is fundamental to living a healthy life so it’s important to take a look at sleep health from a holistic point of view. Is your environment free of noise and light pollution? Are you sleeping on a mattress causing you pain? What kind of foods and beverages are you consuming before bed? It's important to asses these questions in order to get the best sleep possible. Give your body the chance to operate optimally and help you achieve all of your daily goals.
Lisa Smalls is a freelance writer from North Carolina who regularly covers the topic of sleep health for Mattress Advisor. Lisa is especially passionate about understanding the relationship between diet and how it impacts sleep quality. Now she loves educating others on the topic through her writing.