Food Not to Eat Before Bedtime

Food Not to Eat Before Bedtime

6 minute read

Getting a good night of sleep is important, and most people know the basics of promoting healthy sleep: establish a bedtime routine, go to sleep around the same time each night, keep the bedroom at a cool, comfortable temperature, and avoid spending too much time on a phone or computer just before bed. While these strategies are important, it is also necessary to consider what foods keep you awake at night. It turns out that eating certain things just before bed can keep you tossing and turning all night, instead of getting the restorative sleep you need. In fact, one study found that eating anything within three hours of bedtime was associated with waking up in the middle of the night, so nighttime snacking in general may be problematic. Read on to learn more about the specifics of what food not to eat before bedtime.

What is the relationship between diet and sleep?

Before diving into what foods not to eat before bed, it is helpful to learn how diet and sleep are related. Scientists have conducted extensive research to determine how the foods we eat affect our sleep, and they have arrived at some interesting findings. For example, studies have shown that eating too little protein can contribute to poor sleep. Additional research suggests that a high-protein diet can reduce the number of times a person wakes up at night, whereas a high carbohydrate diet can result in falling asleep more quickly. What this research suggests is that advice on food not to eat before bedtime is legitimate and based upon science.

Why Sugar is Among Foods not to Eat Before Bedtime

If you’re looking into what foods keep you up at night, add sugary foods like cookies, cake, sweetened beverages, and candy to the top of the list. A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that people who consumed more added sugars had worse sleep quality. This is not surprising, given the fact that sugars provide the body with a quick, easy energy source. Avoid sweet treats in the hours leading up to bedtime, or else you may find that you have trouble settling down for the night. 

Troubles with Pre-Bedtime Caffeine

This may come as a no-brainer, but coffee and other caffeine-containing foods and beverages are part of the list of what foods not to eat before bed. What most people may not realize, however, is that you need to give your body a rather significant break from caffeine in the hours leading up to bed. In fact, a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that caffeine consumption disrupted sleep even when consumed as many as six hours prior to bedtime. This means that the cup of coffee you have with dinner or that cappuccino you pick up on the way home from work may be interrupting your slumber. Keep in mind that caffeine may also be hiding in unexpected places, such as in tea, sodas, chocolate candies, and even cereals and ice creams that are flavored with chocolate.

Spicy and Acidic Foods on the List of What Foods Can Keep You Awake at Night

Other foods not to eat before bedtime, especially if you have troubles with acid reflux, are acidic and spicy foods. For example, acidic foods like tomatoes and grapefruit can make heartburn worse, keeping you up at night. Spicy foods like hot peppers can also cause heartburn, or increase your body’s temperature, which interferes with sleep. If you’ve been having trouble falling asleep at night, you might want to take a look at your evening eating habits and remove any foods that are particularly spicy or acidic.

Fatty Foods and Sleep Disturbance

Also among the list of what foods not to eat before bed are fatty foods, such as fried dishes and high fat meals like cheeseburgers. These foods tend to be harder to digest, which can result in bloating that disrupts your sleep. Scientists have found that fatty foods can lead to multiple types of sleep disturbance. For example, a high-fat diet tends to result in less restorative sleep, as well as more awakenings during the night. Fatty meals can also reduce the amount of REM sleep that a person gets, which is harmful, as this is the stage of sleep during which a person experiences vivid dreams, and a lack of this sleep has been linked to a shorter lifespan.

The Negative Influence of Alcohol on Sleep

You may have heard people refer to their evening glass of wine or liquor as a “nightcap” which they feel helps them to fall asleep. Perhaps you have even used alcohol to get you ready for bed. You might be surprised to learn that alcohol before bed can actually have the opposite of its intended effect. While a bedtime glass of wine may make it easier to fall asleep, it actually leads to sleep disruptions during the second half of the night. Ultimately, this leads to disturbed sleep and feeling unrefreshed in the morning. Go ahead and add beer, wine, and liquor to the list of what foods keep you awake at night.

Weighted Blankets for Improved Sleep

In summary, sugary foods, caffeinated foods and beverages, spicy and acidic foods like peppers or tomatoes, high-fat meals, and alcohol are among the foods not to eat before bedtime. If you’re looking for ways to improve your sleep, you might also be interested in using a weighted blanket, which can calm the body and help you to get a restful night of sleep. A cooling weighted blanket keeps you comfortable and relaxed throughout the night. If you’re ready to shop for options, the Aricove cooling weighted blanket is available in 10, 15, and 20-lb versions for adults. Our blanket is made with premium bamboo fabric, which is naturally soft and moisture wicking to ensure optimal comfort throughout the night.

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