Eating before bed is often discouraged for a variety of reasons, including contributing to weight gain, affecting your sleep quality, causing strange dreams, leading to heartburn, and more. Therefore, most doctors strongly suggest not eating for at least two to three hours before you go to sleep. However, when you are hungry or have had a long day, going without food could just as easily cause sleep problems as eating too late. Small snacks or meals are better than a large one late at night, especially after around 9pm, and you should avoid eating the following foods.
Milk is a controversial subject when it comes to bedtime snacks. Many people strongly believe in the ability of a warm glass of milk to put you to sleep. Although there are several nutrients in milk that can promote sleeping, such as tryptophan, it can also contribute to digestive issues. Additionally, milk has a high amount of natural sugar in the form of lactose, which could lead to a significant blood sugar high and then crash, ruining your night’s sleep. If you have never had problems with drinking warm milk at night, then it may be fine to keep in the rotation. However, if you have lactose intolerance or are sensitive to blood sugar changes, then it is best to avoid milk at night.
Fatty, Greasy Foods
Before you go to sleep, the last thing you want to eat is a large bacon cheeseburger, half a pizza, or any other foods high in fat and grease. The excess fat and grease promotes the production of acid in your stomach and loosen the sphincter of the lower esophagus. This increases the chance of heartburn during the night. Even if you do not experience heartburn or indigestion, the heavy meal will just sit in your stomach throughout the night, especially as you sleep and your metabolism and digestion slows. You have no way to burn off those calories, which makes it easier for your body to convert it straight to fat, leading to weight gain.
Alcohol may cause sleepiness, but that does not correlate to a good night’s sleep; instead, it leads to poor quality sleep. Because alcohol quickly metabolizes, it causes you to wake up several times throughout the night. It also increases the number of times you wake up at night and shortens the amount of time you sleep.
Chocolate does not only have additional calories from fat and sugar that can hurt your diet, it also includes a significant amount of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, which could make falling asleep difficult, especially for those sensitive to it. For the same reason, coffee, tea, soda, and other caffeinated drinks should be avoided close to bedtime.
Celery may seem like a weird addition to a list of what not to eat before bed. As a low calorie vegetable, it would be easy to think it the perfect snack before bed. However, it is a diuretic, which means it increases the number of times you will need to wake up to go to the restroom at night, interrupting your night’s sleep.
If you feel hungry at night, there are plenty of healthy options for a snack that will not lead to heartburn, weight gain, or a restless night. Bananas, cherries, cereal, berries and cottage cheese, turkey, and hard-boiled eggs provide healthy, fulfilling snacks without causing problems.