(Askmen.com) We lose sleep over so many things, so the last thing we need is our late-night dining decisions working against us. Everyone likes a little nighttime nosh, but what you decide to nibble on can drastically affect how well you sleep. While some foods help your slumber, others (fatty or greasy options) can wreak havoc on your rest. If you’re looking for a peaceful night, here are the 10 foods you should avoid right before bed.
1. Ice Cream
A bowl of ice cream might be the most comforting bad-breakup bed accompaniment, but there’s a limit to its soothing properties. For starters, ice cream is loaded with fat, so you’re not going to give your body a chance to burn any of it before bed, and then all of the sugar is going to pump your body full of energy right before you hit the hay, so you’ll be sending your body divergent messages. On top of that, the sugar just gets stored and turned to fat, too, so this is a lose-lose situation all around. It’s also been discovered that eating high-sugar foods before bed causes nightmares, so while the taste might be calming, the results are unnerving.
Seeing celery on this list might surprise you, but there’s a simple reason for it: celery is a natural diuretic. What that means is it’s going to make you pee a bit more than usual. Diuretics elevate the rate of urination because they push water through the system. So that means that if you’re dipping into too much celery right before bed, your body might wake you out of your slumber for a pee break. Vegetables are some of the most nutrient-rich foods you can give your body, but avoid ones like celery for the sake of uninterrupted sleep.
Pasta is a fast and easy fix for those craving a quick bite before bed, but it’s not your ideal nighttime snack. Pastas are straight carbohydrates, and if you’re going to bed right after eating, that’s all going to turn into fat. On top of that, the things added to pasta — oils, cheeses and heavy cream or tomato sauces — will only add to the crowd in your love handles. Also, most pasta has a high glycemic index, which means it’s more likely to play with your blood-sugar levels, delay sleep and wake you up at night.
If you want to give your stomach a good workout before bed, feed it some greasy, salty pizza. Your stomach, like the rest of your body, would love to relax when most of the other organs are chilling, too, but pizza isn’t exactly a light meal. Your tummy will have to get busy. The layer of tomato sauce has high levels of acidity, which is just another catalyst for acid reflux, but in general, fatty and greasy toppings — especially high-fat meats and cheeses — do a good enough job of their own on stirring up heartburn. That’s not the wakeup call you want at night. If you’re going to do it, be nice to your stomach and check out these nutritional pizza toppings. One slice isn’t the end of the world, but when’s the last time you stopped at one slice?
5. Candy Bars
If nightmares about the monster in the closet or the gremlins under the bed disturb your sleep, you might want to avoid candy bars. One of the easiest — and worst — ways of breaking out of a deep slumber is from a nightmare that’s very real to us. A recent study has shown that 7 out of 10 people who eat junk foods like candy bars before bed are more likely to be prone to nightmares. The hypothesis is that the high levels of sugar create more nightmarish brain waves. Try these junk food substitutes instead. Cross this late-night snack off your list if you’re looking for a peaceful night.
Mitt Romney loves a good bowl of cold cereal right before bed, but he might want to be careful which one he chooses or he won’t get the rest he needs. Cereals often contain high amounts of refined sugar and are chock-full of carbohydrates. That might set you off on a bit of a spike and crash in your blood sugar levels, which is not the ideal way to put your body at peace before bedtime. Instead of reaching for sugary cereals, go for healthier cereals. Those that are whole-grain and have low sugar will quench the craving but won’t keep you up.
You might want to avoid garlic before bed if you’re sleeping with a partner, but it’s best avoided for reasons besides bad breath. Garlic is known as a “hot herb,” and, along with spicy food, it tends to have some properties in it that can cause heartburn. It’s known to sometimes have the side effect of upsetting the stomach, so if you have a weak stomach or are vulnerable to acid reflux, the last thing you want to do is light the fire right before you lie down to rest.
8. Dark Chocolate
Who doesn’t like to sneak a little nub of chocolate before bed to get that warm feeling inside? Unfortunately, if you’re aiming for a good night’s sleep, dark chocolate is one of the foods you’d better avoid. Dark chocolate is a sneaky source of caffeine, which is known to perk you up. Almost all chocolate contains some level of caffeine, and on top of that, it’s loaded with stimulants like theobromine, which is known to make your heart race a little bit. The lone saving grace is white chocolate, which doesn’t have theobromine and is usually short on caffeine.
There’s a general belief that copious amounts of alcohol puts you into a deep daze and produces great sleep, but that’s not fully accurate. While alcohol does help you get to sleep, it doesn’t lead to long-lasting and refreshing rest. Alcohol actually interferes with the restorative functions of sleep, often paving the way for shallow sleep and several awakenings throughout the night. On top of that, people who regularly use alcohol to fall asleep develop a dependency on it, which creates a frustrating cycle. If you’re aiming for a deep, peaceful sleep, alcohol is to be avoided.
10. Red Meat
After a big portion of red meat — be it a nice brisket or a big, juicy steak — most of us undo the top button on our jeans and give way to the snooze-inducing itis. The problem is that red meat is loaded with proteins and fats that will keep your body hard at work throughout the night. To achieve a deeper sleep, you ideally want all your systems at peace — and meat takes longer to digest than any other foods. Don’t avoid red meats altogether, as they have high levels of iron and tryptophan, which helps sleep. Just don’t eat it right before bed, or your body will be busy breaking it down all night.