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Food and Sleep: Eat This, Not That, Before Bed
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Food and Sleep: Eat This, Not That, Before Bed

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Jan 30, 2020

Most people assume what they do immediately before bed is the source of their sleep disturbances. While scrolling through your news feed, squeezing in a late-night workout and not giving your body enough time to wind down right before you go to sleep can definitely be a cause of your tossing and turning, there’s another culprit you may not be considering: what you eat.

Although certain foods eaten before bed can actually help you sleep better, other snacks could be having the opposite effect. Identifying these foods and being conscious of when you consume them could be the answer to your sleep problems. We have gathered a few of the most common sleep-stealing foods, as well as a few of those that promote it, to help you get better sleep night after night.

Foods that Keep you up at Night

Tomatoes and Tomato-Based Foods

Skip that late-night slice of pizza or conquer your spaghetti cravings closer to lunchtime because the tomatoes in pizza, pasta sauces and other foods could be a source of your sleeplessness. The acid in tomatoes can cause heartburn and indigestion during the night, making it more difficult to get the sleep you need.

Chocolate

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Nothing caps off the end of a long day like satisfying sweets. However, opting for anything with chocolate could keep you up later than you’d like. The caffeine found in chocolate is responsible for a lot of sleepless nights – the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it contains. Enjoy your chocolatey treat earlier in the day or go for something sweet without caffeine – fruits with natural sugars, frozen yogurt or peanut butter are all great options.

High Fat Foods

As you start to wind down for the evening, limit your intake of foods high in fat. This is because these foods activate your digestion system when you’re trying to sleep. They also can cause stomach acid to build up, which can move into your esophagus as you’re lying down trying to sleep.

Large Amounts of Liquids

While you should avoid any liquids with caffeine after the late afternoon, you should also be conscious of how much liquid you’re drinking before bed. When you drink large amounts of fluids leading up to your bedtime, you’re more likely to wake up throughout the night to go to the bathroom, disturbing your sleep.

Foods that Help You Sleep

Pistachios

According to researchers at Louisiana State University, pistachios have been found to contain a significant amount of melatonin – the sleep-inducing hormone your body naturally releases before bed to make you sleepy. Additionally, these powerful nuts also contain protein, magnesium and vitamin B6, all of which contribute to better sleep. So grab a handful of pistachios before bed if you’ve been having trouble sleeping – just keep your portions under an ounce.

Tea

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A warm cup of tea is one of the best things you can consume before bed – just don’t go too heavy on the liquids. Chamomile, ginger and valerian root teas all have properties to help you sleep better, including calming nerves, soothing stomachs and initiating sleep.

Cherry Juice

Not all cherry juice will help promote better sleep, but tart cherry juice has been shown to have some benefits for your sleeplessness. In addition to melatonin, tart cherries are naturally full of tryptophan and anthocyanins, compounds that help your body produce melatonin naturally while lengthening its effects.

Fruits with Higher Water Content

There is a fine line between enough liquid to keep you hydrated and too much liquid that keeps you up all night going to the bathroom. When you are dehydrated, your body tends to have problems falling and staying asleep. Fortunately, fruits with higher water content, such as cantaloupe, melon and oranges, can help you make up for any deficits without weighing you down like cups of water.

Next time you’re experiencing occasional sleeplessness, examine your pre-bedtime diet. What you eat, and don’t eat, throughout the day could be keeping you up at night.