Busy schedules and fluctuating priorities can sometimes result in us ignoring what is good for our bodies. One of the primary areas that people tend to overlook throughout their day is their food intake and how it relates to their sleep.
There are several reasons that it is important to have a good eating schedule, with one of the biggest reasons being to ensure that you don’t eat an entire day’s worth of food in a single sitting in front of your TV late at night (again).
Not only does doing this make it easy to gain weight quickly, but it can also have a big effect on your sleep quality.
However, if your schedule does result in you having to eat late at night before bed, there are certain foods that you should always avoid.
Why You Should Avoid Certain Foods
Before diving into the list of foods that you should avoid eating before bed, it is important to understand why you should be avoiding them.
Everything you consume has to be broken down by your body. And much like everything else, all foods are unique and react with your body differently. While these effects may benefit you positively, there are just as many that can affect you negatively, especially given the timing of what and when you eat.
Below is a list of foods that you should always avoid eating before going to bed.
Warning: This list is a heartbreaker.
We warned you, didn’t we? It turns out that one of the world’s most famous and beloved dishes is one of the worst foods you can eat before going to bed.
Pizza is mainly made up of dough, cheese, and pizza sauce. The dough that you eat is high in carbs, and the cheese is rich in fat. When your body begins to metabolize these items shortly after consumption, you begin creating energy that is going to keep you up much longer than if you would have stopped eating hours before bed.
The pizza sauce also plays a large role in your sleeping troubles as tomato sauce is acidic and will rip you out of your sleep with heartburn that will leave you in a frantic search for the closest bottle of antacids. If you want to avoid that heartburn that will affect your quality of sleep, it is best to eat your pizza around lunchtime.
Ice cream could possibly be the most valuable commodity when you are in need of a pick-me-up, but it is highly advised that you avoid eating it directly before going to bed.
Similar to cheese (and most other dairy products), ice cream contains a high level of fat that will energize your body as you break it down, resulting in trouble falling asleep.
Along with the high amount of fat, ice cream is known to be high in sugar, even with low-fat alternatives. This sugar could potentially pull you from a deep sleep and leave you feeling exhausted the next day. You then run the risk of napping during the day, which will only affect your nighttime sleep even more.
A steamy bowl of pasta is hard to resist, but it is without a doubt a food that you should avoid eating before bed.
Pasta is basically pure carbohydrates, which actives the fat storage system in your body that will ultimately cause you to toss and turn all night. This inability to stay asleep has a big impact on how many hours of quality sleep you get.
If for some odd reason you simply can not survive without eating pasta before bed, it may be best to go with whole grain pasta because it is made up of complex carbs that are high in fiber and won’t skyrocket your blood sugar levels.
Cereal is truly a gamechanger. It can be a good source of fiber while also playing the role of a delicious snack. It also one of the few times where you intentionally let your food get soggy before enjoying it. But however sneaky cereal may be, it is best to avoid it before bed.
For starters, the milk that you pour into your cereal is high in fat. Again, this is true with pretty much all dairy products. Much like with the cheese and ice cream, your body will take a while to break it all down and it will ultimately prevent you from going into a deep sleep.
The cereal itself is also harmful to your sleep because most cereals are high in sugar. A high intake of sugar right before going to bed is surely going to wake you up at some point. In some situations, people have a hard time returning to sleep after waking up.
Nothing beats a good steak. But a good night’s sleep is definitely a close second.
Seriously though, red meats, such as steak and ground beef, are very high in protein and take a while for the body to digest. If you eat red meats anytime close to when you go to bed, you are most likely still going to be burning it off as you fall asleep.
If you do have the luxury of enjoying a burger or juicy steak for dinner, make sure that it is several hours before you plan on going to bed.
We know that alcohol can technically be classified as both a food and non-food item, but due to its popularity for serving as a late-night sleep aid, it feels relevant enough to mention it.
While it is commonly believed that a little (or lot) of alcohol can help you get a good night’s sleep, it is actually just the opposite.
Alcohol will affect your REM sleep, also known as rapid eye movement sleep. It is in this sleeping phase that people experience dreams and will have muscle movements. When this very important stage of sleep is disrupted, severe drowsiness and poor concentration are likely to occur the following day.
It is also important to note that the more alcohol you drink before bed, the more your REM sleep will be disrupted.
I understand that because the majority of foods on this list can be considered “junk foods,” it may be surprising to see that celery is included. Although celery is full of antioxidants that help protect blood vessels, along with several other nutrients, it does have its own Achilles heel when it comes to sleeping.
Celery is a natural diuretic and will push water through your system at an accelerated rate. Rather than spending your time sleeping, you will be spending your time walking to and from the bathroom.
It is admirable that you may choose celery as a late-night snack in an attempt to be more health-conscious, but there are better alternatives that are also healthy. Almonds and walnuts are two good examples because they won’t keep you up late with bathroom runs and have a significantly lower protein content than steaks and other red meats.
While these foods in particular could drastically affect your sleep, there are many other foods that can negatively affect your sleep as well. A good rule of thumb is to stop eating at least three hours before going to bed.
If your diet does not seem to be the reason behind your sleeping troubles, you may need to do a little research on different methods to help you fall asleep.