There are a number of unexpected foods that, when eaten after 5 p.m., may disrupt our sleep cycles. For example, because of their insoluble fiber, healthy vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower force the body to complete a rigorous digestion process that may make it difficult to fall asleep. Beans, dairy, and other foods that cause gas and bloating can also contribute to a restless sleep.
If you can’t sleep, stop eating these 10 foods after 5 p.m.
Alcohol is obviously not a food, but the widespread misconception that it is a useful sleep aid is why it’s included on this list. It’s true that a couple of stiff ones after dinner will force you into a boozy slumber, but an alcohol-induced sleep isn’t quality shut-eye.
The humble legume is praised for its high protein content, soluble fiber, and other essential nutrients. Though legumes are the foundation of a healthy diet, they wreak havoc on our digestive systems. Eating a bowl of chili or rice and beans before sleep is asking for a night of indigestion and gas pains.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and other vegetables in the cruciferous family should be included in your diet without question, but it may not be a great idea to eat these fibrous foods late into the night because they take the body longer to digest, keeping you awake. Cruciferous vegetables also contain indigestible sugars that may lead to a night of gas and bloating.
There’s nothing wrong with having a sweet tooth, but eating too much candy or other sugary treats will have you tossing and turning in bed. Candy is composed mostly of unrefined sugars, which can cause wild swings in blood-sugar levels. The initial sugar crash may help you fall asleep, but afterward you’ll be due for a restless night’s sleep.
Every person reacts differently to certain foods, but for lactose-intolerant individuals, milk, cheese, and ice cream can cause some serious “internal disruptions.” Bloating and gas can be annoying at best and painful at worst, but regardless of the degree of severity, these tummy grumbles will prevent you from drifting off to sleep.
A few nibbles of chocolate is a pleasant way to end a meal, but eating dark chocolate too late at night might be keeping you awake. Cocoa beans, which are used to make dark chocolate, naturally contain caffeine, and eating bars of chocolate with higher cacao percentages might give you a slight buzz.
Cured meats like salami, prosciutto, and pepperoni are delicious as an antipasti or pizza topping, but these meats should be avoided late at night (especially if you have asthma). Preserved meats contain high concentrations of the amino acid tyramine, which signals the brain to release norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that readies the body for action.
Consuming a spicy bowl of curry or a taco doused with hot sauce will awaken your taste buds, but it will also keep you awake. Chile peppers have numerous health benefits, but when consumed before bedtime spicy foods can cause indigestion, heartburn, and elevated body temperature — physical qualities that impair sleep.
Just like preserved meats, tomatoes contain high concentrations of tyramine, an amino acid that triggers the production of the stimulant norepinephrine. Other foods rich in tyramine are eggplant, soy sauce, blue cheese, and red wine.
Begrudgingly waking up in the middle of the night to run to the bathroom is a major sleep disruption, but these trips are likely a result of consuming natural diuretics like celery.