As the old adage goes, you are what you eat. The extra inch of fat around your waist? It’s most likely your diet. Those black rings under your eyes? It may surprise you to learn that it may very well be down to your diet, too. Everything you eat affects your body in some way and if you’re not careful, the food you eat can steal precious hours of sleep. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to stop eating them — the key is in the timing. Whatever you do, don’t eat any of these too close to your bedtime. Have them for lunch or plan for an early dinner, instead.
The thrill you get from eating something spicy may keep you coming back for more but have anything too spicy too close to dinner, and sleep isn’t going to come back at all. You’re lucky if you don’t suffer from indigestion after eating spicy food — others may not be as lucky. For plenty of people, their condition may be so severe that it keeps them up in bed. Even if you somehow evade indigestion, spicy food may still disrupt your sleep in other ways. When we eat something spicy, our body temperature tends to rise which, in turn, affects your sleep quality. It would be best to avoid eating them for at least three hours before bedtime.
Dark chocolate is highly touted for its high iron and antioxidant content, but none of us should be eating any of it right before we sleep. A bar of dark chocolate tends to contain enough caffeine to make you way too alert for bedtime, especially if you’re not much of a coffee drinker. Instead, try to get your fill of the benefits of dark chocolate much earlier in the day. That sense of alertness would be put to much greater use when you’re out and about.
Happiness is a slice of hot cheesy pizza, fresh from the oven — but not so much if you plan to sleep anytime soon. Pizza is particularly high in fat and simple, refined carbohydrates, both of which spell bad news for your quality of sleep. Its high fat content means that pizza tends to take longer to digest, causing discomfort when you lie down in bed and attempt to sleep. As if that isn’t enough, pizza dough is usually made from refined carbohydrates. This may slow down your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy.
Cereal may be the ultimate choice of snack for broke university students on a budget but you should most definitely stay away from any way too close to bedtime. The sugary ones, especially, contain plenty of refined carbohydrates and simple sugars that can interrupt your slumber and leave you feeling tired the next day. If you still wish to munch on something similar, try whole grain cereals that contain more fibre and slow-digesting carbohydrates instead.
Stay away from even the leanest of chicken meat cuts before heading to bed. Some bodybuilders emphasise on getting some protein in before they sleep to maximise muscle growth. However, eating a meal that is too high in protein too close to bedtime forces your body to focus on digestion, thus disrupting your quality of sleep. Instead, make a compromise with Greek yoghurt as a bedtime snack instead. Greek yoghurt still contains a fair amount of protein but its high tryptophan content may increase production of melatonin, helping you sleep better.
Pasta may be mind-blowingly easy to prepare, even for beginners, but that level of ease does not carry over well when it comes to sleep. Pasta is high in refined carbohydrates and eating too much of those may trigger your body to convert any excess into fat for storage. This means greater insulin levels in your bloodstream, which inhibits the production of melatonin.
You may even wish to cut down on how often you eat pasta in the day too. Many of us may feel sleepy after eating pasta but that temporary sleepiness is mostly your body going through an intense sugar crash. High sugar levels in your bloodstream spike energy levels only temporarily, and soon leave your energy drained. As a result, you may find your sleep schedule knocked out of balance since you may be less likely to feel sleepy later.
The next time you find yourself craving a midnight snack, steer as far away as possible ordering one of those 24-hour fast food delivery services. Definitely, resist the urge to order french fries. Fried foods, including french fries, are ridiculously high in fat, which may cause indigestion or acid reflux when you lie down in bed immediately afterwards. A much better alternative would be baked sweet potatoes. Besides circumventing the issues that come with eating fried foods, baked sweet potatoes are high in potassium, which is a natural muscle relaxant.