According to scientists, the most common causes of insomnia includes unhealthy sleeping habits, certain medical disorders, and psychiatric problems. But it turns out that the food you eat can also affect the quality of your rest because there’s a direct connection between a late-night snack and the condition of your brain and body in general.
Bright Side made a list of the most surprising foods you shouldn’t eat before going to sleep.
Even though peppermint definitely has plenty of health benefits, sleeping well isn’t one of them. So if you’re used to popping chewing gum into your mouth after dinner in order to freshen your breath or drinking peppermint tea in order to soothe your nerves, it’s better to get rid of these habits if you want to sleep better. The reason is rather simple — peppermint can be a heartburn trigger.
Most vegetables, especially broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower, have high amounts of insoluble fiber which moves slowly through your digestive system. So if you eat a lot of these veggies close to bedtime, your body may still be working on digesting them while you’re trying to drift off. This can prevent you from getting optimal sleep by keeping you up during the night.
It turns out that onions can cause gas and stomach bloating because they contain soluble fiber called fructans. The additional pressure in your stomach can also result in acid reflux, an uncomfortable condition where stomach acid flows back into your throat. So if you’re having a healthy dinner, make sure that it doesn’t contain large amounts of onion.
7. Nuts and seeds
No doubt, certain nuts and seeds might be a perfect late-night snack when you’re watching your favorite movie in bed. But it’s better to avoid this kind of food before going to sleep because it’s known to provide natural forms of energy that you don’t need at night. It’s better to save this energy inducing food for the morning and eat a handful of pistachios for breakfast instead.
6. Cured meats
Foods like bacon, pepperoni, and sausage contain high levels of tyramine, an amino acid that helps produce the brain stimulant norepinephrine. And aside from that, they are usually high in fat and protein that are both very slowly digested. So if you eat bacon right before bed, you’ll most likely feel uncomfortable and won’t be able to sleep because your brain and stomach will still be working.
5. Spicy foods
Thanks to their metabolism-boosting benefits, some spices like cayenne pepper or Tabasco are often used by those who want to lose weight. But they can also ruin your night’s sleep by triggering heartburn in your throat. Along with digestive problems, spicy foods increase your body’s core temperature which can raise your chances of staying awake at night.
4. Ice cream
If you have a giant bowl of chocolate ice cream right before bed, you can definitely forget about getting a good night’s sleep. This can be explained by the high amounts of fat contained in the ice cream that are digested at a very slow rate in your stomach. So, instead of sweet and fatty ice cream, it’s better to have some low-fat yogurt or milk that won’t spoil your rest.
3. Dark chocolate
A square or 2 of dark chocolate might be a good way to stimulate your brain and boost your metabolism but it’s not going to do anything to help you get a sound sleep because it contains caffeine. A general rule is that the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it contains. So if you’re not ready to ditch dessert completely, you can try to eat a piece of white chocolate instead.
2. Green tea
Along with caffeine, green tea contains stimulants like theobromine and theophylline which can cause a fast heart rate and feelings of nervousness and anxiety. So if you are sensitive to caffeine and suffer from sleeping problems or nervous system disorders, drinking green tea before bedtime might not be a good idea for you.
Of course you should drink plenty of water during the day to stay hydrated. But if you drink too much right before bed, you may have to make multiple trips to the bathroom during the night. So instead of trying to compensate for your daily water loss in the late evening, start to taper off your fluid intake at least 90 minutes before bedtime.
Do you eat some of these foods before going to bed? Tell us about your eating habits in the comments!
Illustrated by Daniil Shubin for BrightSide.me