Chocolate can increase your heart rate. Africa Studio/Shutterstock
Tossing, turning, wondering why you can’t seem to drift off to bed… Was it something you ate? Maybe. It’s not as ridiculous a notion as it sounds.
Some foods are a really bad idea to eat before bed — and not because of the calories. Studies have disproven the idea that eating late at night results in poorer health outcomes than eating earlier in the day. So the dietary concern isn’t the problem; a few of the foods on this list are low-calorie and actually really healthy.
Worrying about more than just your waistline, we compiled foods that have other qualities that make them set-ups for sleepless nights. A few of them might even cause you to wake up multiple times throughout the night, infuriatingly snapping you back awake. You need your rest, especially because of sleep’s crucial role in maintaining your natural energy cycle, keeping your cravings regular, and jacking up your metabolism. Find out which foods you should avoid if you ever want to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow.
Attention, everyone: Do not use alcohol as a sleep aid. It doesn’t work! Sure, it might make you feel drowsy and put you to sleep a bit faster. However, the quality of your sleep severely suffers — meaning that you’ll be way more tired in the morning. Your circadian rhythm gets jumbled; you might wake up throughout the night or you might sleep right through, but not as deeply. Either way, the sleep situation is not ideal.
It’s a fatty meat— that much we know. If you’ve ever eaten a lot of bacon in one sitting, you’re probably aware of the digestive upset it can cause. That, along with the stimulating chemical tyramine hiding in every slice, is enough to stave off sleep until the digestion process has finished.
Cereal makes for a quick and easy snack and gets some tryptophan-rich milk in your system (unless you’re eating it right out of the box), but store-bought varieties are often coated with sugars and syrups. With your blood glucose running on high, you’ll be down for a dance party — not for bedtime.
Mozzarella is a safe bet, but it pretty much ends there. Though cheese has the soothing qualities of dairy, it also contains tyramine — a compound that accumulates through the fermenting and aging process. Tyramine tricks your brain into jolting awake, no matter what time it is. The cheese being monopolized by this secretive Italian-American billionaire, mozzarella, hasn’t been fermented or aged, so you’re in the clear.
It’s a popular choice for a night cap. Who doesn’t love a nice square of dark chocolate to end the day? However, it’s probably not a great idea if you’re trying to adhere to your bedtime. Chocolate has a considerable amount of caffeine (especially higher percentages of dark chocolate) and theobromine, a compound that can increase your heart rate and your alertness as a result.
Pepperoncini, ham, salami, and other cured meats should be avoided late at night. They’re processed and, like cheese, contain tyramine. A better lunch meat to munch on is turkey — it’s also got tryptophan, a compound that encourages sleep rather than staving it off.
Dried fruits can make for a great snack and a stellar compliment to almonds or other nuts— but not before bed. High in fiber and carrying condensed concentrations of sugar in their shriveled skins, dried fruits are a poor choice if you’re about to turn off the lights.
The same could be said for anything fried, really, but we couldn’t really conjure a reason you’d be snacking on fried fish after dark. The high fat content of French fries and other fried foods is difficult for your digestion, and can prevent you from comfortably lying down to fall asleep.
Two things you want to avoid consuming if you’re trying to fall asleep: sugar and fat. Sugar because (duh) it kicks up your energy levels, and fat because it’s tough to digest. Ice cream, a favored nighttime snack for in front of the TV or a movie, has an excess of both.
Some ice creams, such as those flavored with coffee and chocolate, are sneaking in some caffeine, too.
Raw vegetables, especially ones like celery and broccoli, are tough for your stomach to digest. After you eat them, your stomach is going to hone in on the task and start working hard — a process that could keep you up.
Vegetables, fatty foods, and fiber-rich snacks are hard to digest, and red meats are, too. They tend to sit in your stomach and tax your energy, which is not what you want while you’re trying to get relaxed. Anything with a lot of protein is going to be tough to digest — we recommend you stick to something with a more moderate protein content, like yogurt or turkey.
While they make a fantastic healthy breakfast or snack throughout the day, smoothies are not a good idea before bedtime. Unless you’re making one without any fruit, a smoothie is loaded with sugars (albeit natural ones) and will have you jumping out of your skin with renewed energy.
These are no-no’s before bed for a number of reasons. Firstly, they kick your heart rate up — not good news for calming your systems for sleep. Additionally, the metabolism-boosting foods could stimulate your senses and upset your stomach with their high acidity. The result? Painful heartburn that could have you tossing and turning for hours .
Like the delicious aged cheese on our list, tomatoes have loads of tyramine. The compound can induce the production of norepinephrine — a neurotransmitter that can stimulate brain activity. Want your mind to be racing while you’re trying to drift to sleep? Eat some tomatoes.
While delicious and hydrating, watermelons are filled with, well, water . When you drink tons of water (and we’re pretty sure you already know this) you’re bound to need to run to the bathroom at least once during the night. These unwelcome interruptions in your sleep can cause you to feel drowsy and not as well rested in the morning. It could be one of the reasons you’re always feeling tired