If you’re having some trouble sleeping from time to time, the problem could be as simple as adjusting what you eat at night. You could be eating the worst foods for sleep.
Many comfort foods and drinks we might turn to right before bed can be detrimental to sleep. These include donuts, sandwiches made with white bread, anything with chocolate or an alcoholic drink right before bed to wind down. Below is a list of the worst foods to eat at night — avoid as many as you can in order to fall asleep faster tonight.
Don’t eat these 10 foods before bed
Certain foods can keep you up at night, usually due to their glycemic index, caffeine amount, fat content or sugar. Skip these foods if you want a better night’s sleep.
First on the list of worst foods to eat at night is the common comfort food chocolate. It might be tempting to reach for that piece of chocolate cake after a stressful day. However, chocolate has a bit of caffeine in it, so it counts as one of the foods that keep you awake. In fact, 100 grams of dark chocolate contains 43 milligrams of caffeine, according to the USDA. Chocolate is also high in sugar, which can send your blood sugar levels surging right before bed, negatively affecting sleep.
Another type of food to avoid before bed is anything spicy. Spicy foods can especially worsen heartburn.Digestive issues caused by spicy food can make it more challenging to fall asleep.
Work to eliminate any type of food that may contain chili peppers close to bedtime, including certain spicy condiments like sriracha or spicy wing sauce. In general, try to avoid spicy meals, as many of these dishes contain some form of chili pepper to give them that kick.
White bread may be tempting to eat late at night as you fix a quick sandwich before bed. However, white bread is what is known as a high glycemic index food. This means it spikes your blood sugar levels right after eating it. Any food with refined carbs can send your blood sugar soaring. This can lead to sleep disturbances since your blood sugar crashes later on at night and might wake you up.
Ice cream has a double whammy of having high amounts of sugar and fat. A 100-gram serving of vanilla ice cream has 11 grams of fat and 21.2 grams of sugar, according to the USDA. As mentioned, sugar can immediately spike blood sugar levels, disrupting sleep.
High amounts of fat can also negatively affect sleep patterns. Fat takes longer to digest. On top of that, the digestive system slows while we sleep, and hard-to-digest food can lead to discomfort that keeps us awake.
You might be tempted to reach for a drink before bed to wind down. But drinking alcohol right before bed can have the opposite effect if you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep. You may fall asleep faster by drinking alcohol or feel more tired. However, changes to your blood alcohol level throughout the night can lead to sleep disturbances.Heavy alcohol use is even strongly linked to insomnia. You can also check out our guide to the three drinks you should avoid before bed.
Donuts can feel like an excellent comfort food, especially after a stressful day. But they have a high sugar content that can raise and then crash blood sugar levels, leading to sleep problems. On top of that, donuts tend to be made from processed carbs, so you’re introducing the same problem as white bread on top of the sugar: a glycemic index that sends your blood sugar on a nightly sleep-disrupting rollercoaster.
If it’s been a long day or you’re just getting done with a night out, it might be tempting to stop for some fast food before bed. However, fast foods like burgers tend to come with a high fat count. That greater fat intake can slow down an already slowing digestive system at night, leading to digestive discomfort.On top of that, fast food is very processed, which can negatively affect sleep quality by leading to insomnia.
Similar to the fast food problem, fried chicken carries the issue of having too much fat. According to the USDA, a fried chicken wing piece contains 20.1 grams of fat per 100-gram serving. In addition to being difficult to digest right before bed, high-fat foods may also contribute to worsening acid reflux symptoms, making it harder to sleep at night. You may want to opt for a lean, grilled breast piece instead or any of these other foods to help you sleep.
Candy, in general, is a bad idea right before bed. The high sugar amounts in candy introduce that blood sugar spike right as you’re trying to wind down. It’s also common for candy to contain chocolate, so you’re risking consuming caffeine right before bed.
Saturated and trans-fats are also common in candy. Fat is already harder to digest, and unhealthy fats can lead to insomnia. For instance, a Snickers Cruncher bar has 24.4 grams of fat per 100-gram serving, higher than a fried chicken wing.
There may be a reason why bacon is commonly considered a breakfast food. The high-fat content makes it hard to digest right before bed. A 100-gram serving of bacon has a whopping 37.1 grams of total fat content. That makes it a nightmare to eat right before bed if you’re prone to acid reflux. The fat content makes bacon a hard-to-digest food when your digestive system is already slowing down as you sleep.