By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern
If you are having trouble sleeping at night and are waking up very tired it might be what you are eating before bed. It could also be the fact that you look at your phone, computer, or television up until the time you go to bed, or it could be a medical condition, in which case we recommend consulting with your physician.
If you sleep well on a regular basis and there are certain nights where you just can’t fall asleep, it is likely an unsuspecting food you ate within a few hours of laying down and trying to catch some shut-eye. A general rule of thumb in the health world is to not eat food after a certain time of night. That recommended time varies, but is usually between seven and nine in the evening. There are foods and beverages that make sense not to eat in the evening including caffeinated drinks like soda and coffee, but sometimes people forget and grab a soda anyway. Other than these caffeinated products that people know might keep them up, there are all kinds of other foods lurking in the shadows, waiting to keep your sleep at bay.
- Coffee, Soda and Tea – We are starting with the obvious here! Coffee, soda, and some teas are full of caffeine. Usually we drink such beverages in the morning to wake us up, so it’s not a very good idea to drink it before bed. Caffeine itself stays in your body for up to five hours, while the wakening effects can last for up to 14. If you want to opt for caffeine-free beverages that’s okay, but even decaffeinated coffee and soda can still keep you up with tummy aches and heartburn. It’s best to leave your morning cup of Joe in the A.M. and keep your soda limited to lunch time.
- Chocolate – Another sneaky source of caffeine, chocolate may keep you up at night if you eat enough of it. Whether you’re munching on a chocolate bar, eating chocolate ice cream, or drinking a nice warm cup of hot chocolate, you are at risk of losing sleep. The risks are a little bit higher if you are a dark chocolate lover, as dark chocolate contains more caffeine than milk chocolate.
- Spicy Foods – Put down that Sriracha bottle! Eating spicy foods in the hours before bed can lead to you not catching enough ‘Z’s’. My downfall is Mexican or Chinese food, both of which can get very spicy, and both of which should be avoided late at night. Eating a large meal of any kind before bed is bad because you’ll end up over-full and bloated, making sleep something that will not happen. If you add some spice in there, you are very likely to end up with acid reflux and a tummy ache. Say ‘bye-bye’ to sleeping well!
- Alcohol – Like many of the other things talked about, alcohol can definitely give you a tummy ache which makes it harder to sleep, and it can give you acid reflux, too. You’ll notice that when you drink alcohol you might get sleepy quickly, but although alcohol can knock you out, it will keep you from getting the deep sleep you need so you aren’t tired in the morning.
- Ice Cream – For some reason ice cream always sounds delicious right before bed. Don’t be tempted to have a cone though, the sugar will keep you up all night long! Or, see if you can at least find a low-sugar alternative. Since it’s ice cream, sometimes it doesn’t hurt once in a while. .
Before you ‘hit the sack’ tonight, make sure you don’t eat anything that will keep you away from a good night’s sleep! I you are craving a little something, try a small, warm bowl of oats, or a glass of almond milk. Sleep tight!