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Foods to avoid before bed

Foods to avoid before bed
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You may nibble on a ‘light snack’ before going to bed to avoid getting hunger pangs in the middle of the night. Despite your efforts, you toss and turn for hours in bed, and can’t help but wonder if it’s something you ate. The truth is there are certain foods, even healthy foods, that can interrupt sleep and wreak havoc on your digestion system. Read on to learn which types of foods to avoid that can inhibit a good night’s sleep.

Fried foods

Fried foods
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Avoid a trip to the drive-through to satisfy your late-night munchies. Greasy, fatty foods go through your system slower than protein and carbs, so your body will still be hard at work digesting when you try to fall asleep, says behavioural sleep therapist Dr Richard Shane. “You don’t want the engine of the digestive system cranking away when the rest of your body is trying to go to sleep,” he says.

Hot sauce

Hot sauce
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The reasons to avoid spicy foods before bed are twofold. For one, they can irritate the stomach and cause heartburn, making it hard to wind down for sleep, says Dr Shane. The interaction also creates a passage for histamines to release into your body, says Dr W. Christopher Winter, author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It. “Antihistamines make you sleepy,” he says, but on the flip side, histamines promote wakefulness.

Turkey

Turkey
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Forget what you’ve heard about how the tryptophan in turkey makes you sleepy on Christmas day – you can blame your food coma on the massive portions you gobbled down. In fact, turkey on any other day might actually keep you awake. The protein signals the brain to produce dopamine, the ‘motivation molecule’ that gives you energy. You might want to avoid chicken and steak close to bedtime, but there’s still a way to get your protein fix. “Game meat and salmon are higher in melatonin,” says Dr Winter. “Those are good for sleep.”

Alcohol

Alcohol
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Ending your day with a glass (or two) of red wine might conk you out, but you won’t get good quality sleep. As your head hits the pillow, your liver is still hard at work trying to remove the alcohol from your system, says Dr Shane. “There’s a connection between your liver and your heart, and your heart beats faster, and that wakes you up,” he says. Once you snap out of dreamland, your pounding heart will make it harder to drift back into sleep.

Chocolate

Chocolate
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You probably wouldn’t down a cup of coffee before bed, but it’s not the only source of caffeine. About three squares of chocolate contain about 23 milligrams of caffeine, which is a quarter of the amount in a cup of coffee.

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Coffee

Coffee
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No surprise here, but it’s worth noting just how soon before bed you should cut your coffee consumption. “With caffeine, the general rule in the sleep field is no later than early afternoon,” says Dr Shane. To enjoy the taste with a mid-afternoon sweet fix, sip on decaf or half-caf, he says.

Coffee ice cream

Coffee ice cream
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Unfortunately for your after-dinner dessert, coffee ice cream does contain actual coffee – that means caffeine. Some even have bits of coffee beans in them, points out Dr Winter. “If you can, reduce the amount of ice cream you eat or have it earlier,” he says. Also, watch out for hidden caffeine in nutrition bars, which can contain coffee beans, he says.

Water

Water
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Most of the time, extra hydration deserves two thumbs up. As the clock ticks towards bedtime, though, you might want to wind down your liquid load so you don’t need to drag yourself out of bed to use the toilet. “Drink a sufficient amount of water during the day and even at dinnertime so your body has enough water,” says Dr Shane. “You don’t want to go to bed thirsty and drink a lot then.”

Workout helpers

Workout helpers
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Sports shakes and snacks often contain caffeine to pump up athletes’ performance. Try not to take them close to bedtime, and check the label in your protein shake when you finish your gym session to make sure caffeine isn’t hiding inside. “Make sure the workout drinks you’re eating before bed is a post-workout, not a pre-workout, which will have a lot of caffeine or stimulants,” says Dr Winter.

This article originally appeared on Reader’s Digest.

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