It’s best to try to allow your body some time to digest before going to bed, and eating too late will make you feel too replete when you’re trying to sleep comfortably. However, it does happen, and sometimes the days are long, and you end up eating dinner right before bedtime, or you may be hungry for a midnight snack. (And it’s better to eat something than to try to sleep with a growling stomach!)
However, some foods are better than others before going to bed. Some foods can help you sleep by increasing your melatonin levels, while others can keep you awake. Concerned about those pesky sleep disruptors? Keep an eye out for these 10 foods that may keep you awake far longer than you’d like, as well as some healthy alternatives.
1. Tomatoes : “Tomatoes and other acidic foods can cause discomfort and irritation in the esophagus when you lay down for those with acid reflux troubles (or women who temporarily have them whilst also pregnant),” says Kelly Jones M.S., RD, CSSD, LDN. Enjoy them earlier in the day when you’ll be upright, and pair them with other non-acidic foods to balance out the stomach reaction.
2. Burgers with cheese:
A cheeseburger (like any other food) can be enjoyed on occasion as part of a healthy eating pattern, but late at night is not the best time to do so. “Excess saturated fat can slow gastric emptying, leaving food in your stomach and blood flow directed there while you’re trying to sleep,” Jones explains. This can end up causing the body’s hormones to shift away from sleep and toward digestion and absorption.
Save your donut for breakfast with an omelet (good protein!) or as a special treat every now and then. “This food is fried as well as high in sugar, which can cause digestive irritation and blood sugar reactions in some people,” Jones says. Do you remember the term “sugar rush”? Definitely not the best choice before going to bed. To satisfy a late-night sweet craving, turn to natural sources of sweetness such as fruit, caffeine-free herbal tea, or whole-grain bread with peanut butter and honey.
4. Chocolate “While chocolate is a popular late-night snack, it does contain caffeine,” says Jones. Caffeine can be stimulating, so if you’re delicate, you should avoid it. “Many people prefer dark chocolate because it is lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants, but it is also higher in caffeine, so those sensitive to it may have difficulty falling asleep if they eat it at this time,” says Jones.
5. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit contains a lot of fiber and naturally occurring sugar, both of which can cause an overactive digestive system right before bed. Fiber has numerous health benefits, but when you eat dried fruit late at night, you may consume too much fiber too quickly, resulting in gas and bloating that may keep you (or your partner) awake at night. Stick to a small serving of fresh fruit, such as a small apple or a cup of berries.