10 Foods That Are Sabotaging Your Sleep
With so many aspects of daily life battling for our attention—endless emails, social obligations, work, kids, cute puppies on Instagram—it’s hard enough to get a good night’s rest. Food shouldn’t be one more contributing factor hurting our sleep.
Briana Rodriquez, RDN, a nutritionist and certified personal trainer for Jenny Craig, shared her tips with us on the top ingredients, snacks, and drinks that are keeping us from sleeping soundly. To start, she recommends eating a bigger breakfast and lighter dinner, as consuming larger meals means you need a longer time to digest. “If you head right to bed after a heavy meal, your digestion is going to slow and that food is going to be stored instead of used as energy. The result can be highly uncomfortable and keep you awake,” Rodriquez says. This is particularly problematic if you have digestive issues, like acid reflux.
Consider forgoing some of these foods a few hours before bedtime and you may find yourself with the solution to those under-eye circles—and *finally* feeling energized when the alarm goes off.
Spicy foods may not appeal to everyone, but for those that love when their food has some kick, be careful when having a lot of spice in the evenings. Strong spices often cause heartburn and indigestion, both which can get worse when lying down (translation: major trouble for sleep). Save the spice for earlier in the day when you have adequate time to digest.
Having a night cap or glass of red wine before bed is a common wind-down ritual for many. And though alcohol might help some people fall asleep, studies have shown it actually prevents us from staying asleep. Booze causes many to toss and turn throughout the night, which means you’re likely going to wake up tired. Reach for another relaxing drink like chamomile tea.
For those that can handle their fair share of caffeine, it may be no big deal to have a cup in the late afternoon or evening. But if you’re even slightly sensitive to caffeine’s jitter-inducing effects, don’t reach for a cup of joe within six hours of your planned bedtime. If you need a jolt to finish off the workday, Rodriquez recommends green tea or sparkling water to wake yourself up instead.
An oft-forgotten fact is that dark chocolate contains caffeine. While it’s the healthier choice between milk and white chocolate, try to enjoy your sweet snack at least a few hours before bed. Just like coffee, the caffeine in dark chocolate acts as a stimulant, hindering your chances for restful sleep.
Tomatoes and Tomato sauce
A bowl of spaghetti with marinara sauce is comfort food at its finest. Sort of. If you’re incorporating tomatoes into your dinner, Rodriquez recommends eating at least a few hours before bed. They’re packed with an amino acid called tyramine, which activates the release of norepinephrine. This chemical boosts brain activity, in turn delaying your ability to fall asleep.
“Delicious, I know! But pizza has tomato sauce on it which (in addition to the above) is acidic and can lead to an upset stomach,” Rodriquez says. And if you add red pepper flakes to your pizza, the combination of tyramine, acidity, and spiciness is most likely going to leave you with indigestion that makes it harder to rest. So opt for this meal earlier in the day if you are going to enjoy.
We’re well aware that soda is loaded with sugar and empty calories. When you drink it at night and immediately head to bed, your digestion slows and your body will likely store the calories as opposed to using that energy. Soda also contains caffeine.
Cured Meat and Cheese
Like with tomatoes, cured meats and cheeses are another sneaky source of tyramine, the brain activity-boosting amino acid that can make some of us feel wired. Indulge earlier in the day so you can ramp down in the evening.
Fatty, Sugary Foods
Avoid high-fat and sugar-filled snacks and meals before hitting the hay. A recent study found that these foods were associated with disrupted sleep, while high-protein, low-fat meals helped participants fall asleep faster.
Citrus fruits are natural diuretics. Consume them before bedtime and you might be visiting the restroom frequently instead of getting a good night’s rest.
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This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com