Healthy sleep is trending and, as odd as it may sound, finding ways to sleep more efficiently is one of the latest crazes in the world of health and fitness. There are unusual beverages that can help you fall asleep and there are even a bunch of snacks you can eat before bed in order to help you build muscle. And, while everyone knows that caffeine before bed doesn’t equate to a great night’s rest, it’s possible that you are not aware of the many foods that aren’t great to have before bed.
In addition to our 21 Sleep Hacks to Rest Your Way to a Better Body and Better Health, we urge you to avoid the following caffeine-containing, sugary, high-carb snacks before bed.
Even some of the healthier options from our list of 9 Healthiest Breakfast Cereals to Enjoy and 6 Unhealthy Options to Avoid at All Costs are on the bedtime-snacking naughty list. Why? Even the healthy boxed cereals contain carbs, and, while they may not be as unhealthy as these 10 Breakfast Cereals That Have as Much Sugar as Candy, any carbohydrate should be approached with caution before bed time. Carbs, especially sugars, can inspire a blood sugar spike while your body is winding down at night, often resulting in undesirable weight gain.
Red meat — a carnivore’s best friend and the bane of every vegan’s existence. While the nation is torn between loving and hating red meat (decide for yourself after reading 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Eat Red Meat — and 8 Reasons Why You Should), one piece of advice we should all take seriously is that eating a burger before bed isn’t a recipe for peaceful sleep. In fact, burgers tend to have a high fat content and, when compared to the other macronutrients, fat is denser calorically (we’re talking nine calories per gram of fat versus four calories per gram of protein and/or carbohydrates). Fat can trigger heartburn, so if you want to avoid a restless night, tossing and turning with stomach and chest pain, say no to burgers before bed.
Dark chocolate can be incredibly beneficial for one’s health; this isn’t breaking news. What you may not have known, however, is that cocoa naturally contains caffeine (about 12 milligrams of caffeine per ounce of chocolate). You (probably) aren’t downing a hot cup of coffee before bed, and we suggest avoiding dark chocolate as well. As wonderful as a slice of chocolate cake before bed may sound, you may want to save your amazing chocolate cake recipe for earlier in the day.
Remember how sugary cereals were a nighttime no-no? Well, as tempting as a cup or cone from one of the world’s 30 best ice cream parlors may sound on your late evening walk home from the boardwalk or park, you better make sure you have ample time to digest its high sugar content before sleeping; your sleep can be disturbed as your body attempts to process large amounts of sugar consumed directly before bed. Also, many popular ice cream brands contain dark chocolate. Pop quiz: Are you supposed to eat dark chocolate before bed? Answer: No!
Drowning your food in hot sauce isn’t unhealthy, but you better make sure you’re saving the Cholula for breakfast and lunch. Hot sauce, spicy cuisine like Indian dishes, and fiery peppers like jalapeño (and especially these 11 Spiciest Chile Peppers on Earth) amp up your metabolism, often resulting in a higher body temperature that can, in turn, lead to a restless night. Additionally, gastrointestinal distress (actually, we’re adults here — we can call 2 a.m. fits of gas 2 a.m. fits of gas) caused by spicy foods can keep even the most sincere Scoville enthusiast up all night.
Pastas, breads, and other foods made with all-purpose flour can put you at risk of getting cancer. All-purpose flour, also known as white flour, can also kill your sex drive. Do you really need another reason to avoid this commonly used baking ingredient? We’ll give you one: The blood sugar spike caused by eating high-GI foods like pastas and breads made with all-purpose flour before bed can result in restless sleep and undesirable fat accumulation.
We’ve all been there: It’s three in the morning, you just left the bar, and you’re ready to down roughly eight-out-of-eight slices of a pie. If you absolutely need to order food late at night, please avoid the pizza in favor of one of these 15 healthy meals you can have delivered. Ignoring the fact that many late night pizza orders are booze-inspired (alcohol being another thing to avoid before bed), pizza itself is packed with carbs, sodium, and fat, making your digestive system switch from “comfortably cruising to slumber land” to “holy hell, we’ve put too much coal into the fire!”
For many, “Netflix and chill” really means “scrolling through Instagram while Netflix is on and splitting a bag of pretzels with the dog.” As tempting as a bag of pretzels (even the world’s best pretzels) may be while watching mind-numbing television after a long day, pretzels can also cause an undesirable GI spike before bed and, further, you’re more likely to lose track of just how many of these hard, salty treats you’ve eaten. Oh, and they’re one of our 19 Foods and Drinks That Are Putting Your Blood Pressure Through the Roof.
Plain, non-fat Greek yogurt before bed is an incredible nighttime snack. Regular yogurt that comes packaged with fruit, however, is not. Many yogurts made with fruit are filled with very little fruit and very high levels of blood sugar-spiking processed sugars, an ingredient that is just as undesirable at bedtime as it is throughout the entire day. You’ll have to do a little bit of nutrition label investigation to see whether or not the yogurt you’ve chosen has more refined sugar than fruit, so get your reading glasses out the next time you’re in the dairy aisle.