Just like hunger pangs, the wrong foods and beverages can sabotage a restful slumber. Avoid these five snacks before bedtime to get a better night’s sleep.
1) Coffee, Even When It’s Decaf
You probably already know that you should avoid coffee right before bed, but did you also know that caffeine can stay in the body for up to 12 hours? Put down that cup of joe if it’s already after 12 p.m. — even if it’s decaf.
According to Health.com, a 2007 Consumer Reports report found that some decaf coffee samples contained up to 20 milligrams of caffeine, which can stay in your body and interrupt your sleep even hours after you stop sipping.
2) Some Herbal Teas
Drinking your favorite herbal tea to unwind before bed could be a good idea, but pay extra attention to labeling, as tea is another major source of caffeine. Make sure your bedtime tea is caffeine-free, and try to go for peppermint or chamomile varieties to stay on the safe side.
Options that contain black, green or white tea leaves, on the other hand, do contain caffeine, and will interrupt your sleep.
To enjoy a cup of your favorite caffeinated tea, Health.com recommends that you dunk the teabag quickly into a cup of hot water, dump it out, and make a second cup using the same tea bag. Most of the caffeine is released early on. This way you can enjoy the flavor and warm feeling without disturbing your sleep with the stimulant.
Craving a few pieces of chocolate before bed? Think again. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, may contain small traces of caffeine that can impact your sleep.
If you are in the mood for a midnight snack on the sweeter side, try your favorite cereal with milk. According to Fitness Magazine, eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein enables our bodies to produce our happy hormone serotonin. Serotonin in turn produces our sleep hormone melatonin, calming us down and helping us unwind.
Be careful to stay away from sugary cereals to avoid a sugar high right before you get to sleep!
4) No Booze or You Can’t Snooze
A glass of wine after dinner may make you feel drowsy and sleepy, but it works the opposite way once you hit the hay. According to Health.com, drinking alcohol prevents you from getting into the deep, restorative stage called REM sleep. Not getting enough REM sleep causes you to wake up tired and lose focus throughout the day.
Fitness Magazine suggests skipping the nightcap and be done with drinking at the dinner table, to avoid frequent awakenings at night. Go for a cup of warm milk or chamomile tea instead, to call it a night.
5) Eat Light, Sleep Heavy
Eating fatty, greasy or fried foods for dinner can cause acid reflux, heartburn or stomach problems once you lie down. This kind of discomfort can get in the way of your Zzz hours.
Same goes for spicy foods. According to an International Journal of Psychophysiology study cited by Health.com, participants who consumed Tabasco sauce and mustard with dinner had elevated body temperatures during their first sleep cycle, which disturbed their sleep and caused awakenings throughout the night.
Avoid having a large meal for dinner that can also make you feel bloated and uncomfortable. According to Fitness Magazine, you should have your last meal at least two hours before going to bed to give your body enough time to digest.
Ideally, you should stick to low-fat snacks at night time, such as milk or crackers. Be mindful of midnight snacking as it can hurt your waistline as much as your sleep!
20 Things You Shouldn’t Do Before Bed. Health.com. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
The 10 Best and Worst Foods to Eat for Sleep. Fitness Magazine. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
Reviewed July 27, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith