We all have those nights. You come home late from work, stare at your empty fridge, and decide to just order a large pizza at 11 pm. Best idea ever? Yes and no. You’ll feel great for a few minutes, but then issues such as heartburn and stomach cramping might set in making you regret that fourth slice.
These late-night snacks are fun occasional indulgences, but some of these before-bedtime bites might be causing you more harm than they’re worth. (Especially that double cheese, extra meat pizza you devoured.)
If you’re looking for a good night’s sleep—aren’t we all—here are four types of food you need to avoid before bed.
Spicy. Spicy foods an produce a greater amount of stomach acid that causes discomfort, heartburn, and bloating. Spicy foods are also known to stimulate your senses, not exactly what you want when sleep is on the brain. Bottom line: Step away from the red curry.
Fatty. Foods that are high in fat (think fried and greasy, or lots of dairy) are more difficult to digest and take a longer time to get through your system. Stomach gurgling, pains, and cramping are not uncommon after eating these kinds of foods. Rename that midnight ice scream sundae an ice cream sun-don’t.
Sugary. Candy, sugary cereals, and all types of high-sugar foods won’t really help you sleep either. Lots of sugar increases your blood-sugar levels and gives you an instant energy boost. It’s also been said that “high levels of sugar create more nightmarish brain waves.” Better take that Kit-Kat break at noon.
Red Meat. Red meat is high in both protein and fat, making it doubly hard to digest. If you eat a steak right before bedtime it will likely sit in your stomach causing discomfort and possibly cramping. Rule of thumb: Steak tartare is best eaten a long time before bed.
This list from Fox News also suggests watching out for celery, alcohol, garlic, and dark chocolate. Celery is a natural diuretic, alcohol can keep you up, garlic can wreak havoc on your stomach (and breath), and dark chocolate has caffeine.
Though the above restrictions can seem pretty comprehensive, there is still a lot of food that you can eat before bed. One type of food that is especially good for sleeping is anything that contains tryptophan, the infamous, sleep-inducing protein in your Thanksgiving Turkey. Tryptophan is also in a lot of other foods such as bananas, nuts, and seeds. The Huffington Post has a great list of better foods to bedtime.
The philosophy is simple: Eat better, sleep better. Good night and good luck.