Getting a good night sleep is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle. According to the CDC, people who consistently get less than seven hours of sleep a night are more at risk for being “obese, physically inactive, and current smokers.” Chronic health conditions like cancer, arthritis, heart issues and depression are also more common in individuals who aren’t able to get an adequate amount of sleep a night.
Because a good night’s sleep is so important, and because many of us struggle to actually get it (thanks to stress, jobs, family obligations, etc.), we decided to look into a few common foods that are not helping us find those Zzz’s.
If you’re one of the many Americans who find themselves wishing for a better night’s sleep, trying avoiding these five foods a few hours before bedtime.
Even though this is the healthiest chocolate you can eat, dark chocolate is not exactly beneficial if you find yourself struggling to get adequate amounts of sleep during the night. In addition to containing some caffeine, dark chocolate also contains theobromine, an alkaloid found in cacao plants that can act as both a diuretic and a heart stimulant.
While alcoholic drinks may help us initially feel tired and even fall asleep for a few hours, study after study has shown that it ultimately comes back to bite us later on in the night. Deep REM sleep is often harder to come by a few hours after falling asleep due to drinking, and many people suffer from “sleep disturbances” — basically, they wake up in the middle of the night and just can’t drift off again. This is because alcohol messes with our hormones and brain, and causes healthy rhythms to temporarily malfunction.
Foods with Saturated Fats
Foods that contain a lot of saturated fats (beef, chicken with skin, cream, butter, cheese, etc.) have been connected to “lighter, less restorative sleep,” especially when consumed without adequate fiber to help regulate digestion.
Like foods that are heavy in saturated fat, foods that are very salty (chips, salted nuts, pre-packaged meals, etc.) have been shown to decrease sleep satisfaction — especially when consumed right before bed. This negative effect is due to a connection between an over-abundance of salt and blood pressure, hypertension, and excess water retention.
Salsa, Mustard (and Other Spicy Foods)
While spicy foods have been connected to both a healthy metabolism and even a possible longer lifespan, when it comes to eating them right before bed — you may want to avoid them. Researchers have found that capsaicin (which is an active component in most spicy peppers) may increase body temperature in the short term, resulting in “poorer” sleep quality. Spicier foods may also increase heartburn in some people, leading to difficulty falling asleep.
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