5 Foods to Avoid Before Bed
Getting a good night's sleep isn't always easy, especially if you've eaten food that can interfere with healthy sleep. Spicy food, fatty food, sugary junk food, alcohol, and spicy foods can all lead to poor sleep and keep you up late at night. Even food as innocuous as celery can have you running to the bathroom all night.
Dark chocolate. Although dark chocolate is comforting and sweet, it's a bad choice for bedtime and the hours just before bed. You may not think of chocolate as a source of caffeine, but it's there. In fact, the darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine.
You might not dream of drinking coffee right before bed, but not think twice about downing a dark chocolate bar. That's a mistake. A two-ounce 70 percent dark chocolate bar has about 79 milligrams of caffeine, about half of the amount of caffeine you'd find in an eight-ounce cup of coffee.
Red meat. A hefty portion of red meat for a late night dinner might make you feel tired and ready to go to bed feeling full. But while a big, meaty dinner might put you to sleep, you can't count on it to help you get restful sleep.
Red meat is typically high in fat and protein, which your body has to work hard to break down. When you're awake, your body can handle it. But at night, your body needs to focus on rest. Processing red meat can interfere with letting your body work through the stages of healthy sleep. However, red meat and sleep aren't mutually exclusive. You can eat red meat for dinner in normal portions and still sleep well, just not in a large meal late at night.
Ice cream. Like red meat, ice cream has a high-fat content. That makes it difficult for your body to focus on rest as it works to break down the fat. But sugar is a problem for sleep, too.
Ice cream's high sugar content can give you too much energy when you're trying to rest at night. This can make it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep. Further, high sugar foods have the potential to induce nightmares that can disturb your sleep.
Celery. Yes, a vegetable is a bad idea for sleep. Although celery and other vegetables are generally healthy and supportive of healthy sleep, celery can cause a problem. That problem is peeing all night.
Celery is a diuretic, which means it helps to push fluid through your system and results in a higher rate of urination. When you eat celery, you'll have more frequent trips to the bathroom. You'll want to avoid celery just before bed so you're not getting up to go to the bathroom when you're trying to sleep.
Alcohol. Alcohol is one of the most misunderstood foods with regard to sleep. Many people swear by a nightcap that helps them drift off to sleep. And while it's true that alcohol can help you fall asleep, overall, alcohol is not a good choice if you want good quality sleep.
When you drink alcohol before bed, your sleep quality suffers. You're more likely to wake up at night, and you experience less deep, restorative sleep than if you abstained. Alcohol can be a part of a healthy diet, but it's best to not drink just before bedtime.
What to Eat Instead
Want to make better food choices for healthy sleep? Consider these foods rich in carbs, tryptophan, calcium, magnesium, melatonin, and B6 that can support good sleep.
Supporting Healthy Sleep
Although dietary choices can make a difference in your sleep quality, food alone won't help you get a good night's sleep. Practice these healthy sleep habits for better rest every night.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Create a consistent bedtime routine
Design a comfortable sleep environment
Avoid other late night sleep pitfalls, such as screen time and vigorous exercise
Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.