Most of us have heard it before – eating before bed isn’t a great idea for the most part. If we eat too soon before bed we might be up all night, whether it’s because of a sugar rush, heartburn, or indigestion.
While it is usually safest to stop eating around three to four hours before bedtime, not all foods are bad before bed. Light snacking can okay before bed if we can learn to avoid certain types of food that can be detrimental to our sleep. Smart sleep trackers like the Fitbit One can provide useful information about the quality of your sleep, and then help you take steps to improve it.
By learning what foods are important to avoid before bed we can start to learn what small snacks won’t do much harm later at night. By learning why some of these foods disrupt our sleep so much, we might be more likely to think twice before indulging in them too late… no matter how tempting it might be.
Table of Contents
Seven Foods (& Drinks) to Avoid Before Bed
1. Heavy, High Fat Foods
High fat foods including protein and processed foods should be avoided before bed because they are harder to digest. WebMD says we should avoid high fat foods before bed because it may contribute to disrupted sleep cycles.
Eating too much too late can start up the digestion cycle at night, something that we generally want to avoid. Not only does going to bed after eating a heavy meal not feel great, it is also taking up energy that would normally be used somewhere else while we sleep.
2. Spicy Foods
Spicy foods can irritate the stomach and can even cause heartburn, making them an uncomfortable option just before bed. It will also make you hot causing you to sweat in the bed. To avoid having these symptoms take a toll on our sleep, we should avoid eating spicy foods at least 3 or 4 hours before sleeping.
Avoiding caffeine before bed is a good rule of thumb, although some people say that caffeine doesn’t keep them up at night.
For certain people, on the other hand, caffeine stays in their system longer so they need to stop drinking it early in the day. We’re all a little bit different in that respect, but if you find that caffeine makes you jittery sometimes we feel a lot better without it.
Another thing to be mindful of are other sneaky sources of caffeine, like chocolate, cola, and caffeinated teas. Keep in mind that certain medications also contain large amounts of caffeine, which could make sleeping difficult if they need to be taken at night.
Alcohol might surprise you, because a lot of people say that alcohol helps them fall asleep. That may be true, but it also leads to a sleep that is less restful. A couple of drinks at night is not a bad thing if you are an adult, but try to have your last drink a few hours before bed, drink a glass of water and take some time to let it leave your system before you go to sleep.
Having a few drinks too soon before bed can cause you to wake up periodically throughout the night with headaches, night sweats, nightmares, and potentially trips to the bathroom throughout the night depending on your bladder and how much you drank.
Pizza can probably be labeled under the fatty, heavy foods category mentioned at the beginning of this list, but really it requires its own spot. Pizza, with its heavy cheese and acidic tomato sauce is not a good option right before bed.
It might taste good but if you eat pizza right before bed, your stomach is probably not going to like you for it. Remember, keep late night snacking healthy and light if you want to get a good night’s sleep.
6. Acidic Foods
Some acidic foods to avoid before bed include orange juice, grains, sugar, some dairy products, fish, processed foods, meat, sodas, sweet drinks, high protein foods, oranges, tomatoes, mangoes, grapes, and grapefruit.
Acidic foods are bad for people who suffer from acid reflux and can easily keep you up at night if you eat them right before bed.
7. Sugary Foods
Sugary foods cause a spike in your blood sugar before bed, which can throw off your sleep hormones. Certain sugary things like soda and chocolate are even worse because they also contain caffeine.
Three of the Best Bed Time Foods (& drinks)
If you are looking for the closest thing to a sleeping pill without the nasty side effects, you’ve found it. Bananas have soothing melatonin and serotonin combined with magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant, you’ve got yourself a potent and natural sleeping pill.
2. Chamomile Tea
If you’re looking for the best sleep-inducing remedy skip your regular tea or coffee and grab yourself instead a mug of pure chamomile tea. If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed and can’t sleep, wake up and give this herbal tea a go, it will improve both the quality and quantity of your slumber.
3. Warm Milk
Not just for kids, warm milk will help promote a good night’s sleep since it contains tryptophan, an amino acid with sedative-like effects.
So there you have it folks!
The quality of our sleep is very important. Dr. Mercola , an alternative medicine proponent, osteopathic physicians, shares how chronic lack of sleep can result in heart disease and obesity, so it’s important to avoid certain food and beverage groups that can interfere with our sleep.
Interestingly, he also shares that people with more variety in their diets tend to sleep better than people who eat fewer foods altogether. So, eat that spicy food, fruits, vegetables, fats, carbs. Just don’t do it all right before bed.
According to the Food Network, light carbs and small snacks like crackers, warm milk or an apple a few hours before bed is okay. A small light snack before bed won’t hurt. It might even help insomniacs get to sleep at night, in moderation.
The important thing is to try to avoid heavy meals, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol up to three or four hours before bed if you want to get a good night’s rest.