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Eight Foods That Sabotage Sleep: From Bitter Grapefruit to Greasy Pizza

Hey there, how’s it glowin’? The last time we spoke about the relationship between foods and sleep, we shared which foods to include in your diet if you have a difficult time catching some z’s. Today, we’re continuing that conversation but instead of foods that help set the tone for some good ol’ shuteye, we’re chatting about the foods that sabotage sleep. From bitter grapefruit to greasy pizza, there’s a plethora of evening sweet treats and savory classics to avoid before dozing off into dreamland. Keep reading for more!  

Grapefruit

A grapefruit might be a great fruit, but not one to have before bed.

Grapefruits and other acidic fruits such as oranges (both whole and in juice form) are known to ignite acid reflux. They’re also likely to cause heartburn as well, especially if they’re consumed on an empty stomach. It’s also important to note that those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should avoid highly acidic foods in general. They may be tangy and refreshing, but unless you want to wake up in the middle of the night with a burning sensation in your chest or a sour feeling at the back of your throat, it’s best to avoid not only acidic fruits, but vegetables as well.

Ice Cream

Ice cream is worth melting for, but not worth losing sleep over (at least in our opinion).

It’s a no-brainer that ice cream is high in sugar and even more so pending on the flavor you indulge in. When it’s consumed late in the evening, the sugar content in ice cream has the potential to overstimulate the neurotransmitters in your brain and raise your insulin levels, both of which can keep you alert and make it difficult for you to fall asleep. The sugar in ice cream can also result in elevated levels of cortisol (AKA the body’s innate stress hormone) and nothing goes worse together than sleep and stress. Perhaps reaching for that tub of hazelnut gelato while binge-watching Netflix until 3 A.M. isn’t such a great idea after all…

Fries and Ketchup

The saying might be “fries before guys,” but we’re saying no to fries before hitting the hay, especially if they’re covered in ketchup.

The fat, sodium, and carb content in fries varies between brands and the types of potatoes used to make them. But on average, 10-12 pieces of ready-to-bake fries contain 282mg of sodium. Yikes. Just think what that’ll do when ingested late at night. Your body will have to work overtime to try and digest those greasy golden gems and that’s tough to do when you’re laying down, which naturally slows down digestion. This, in turn, can increase stomach upset, keeping you wide awake. And adding a condiment like ketchup only worsens the effects of late-night fry munchin’ as tomatoes, just like grapefruits, are highly acidic.

Dark Chocolate

We like this sweet treat a choco-lot but if you’re having a craving, try satisfying it earlier in the day.

We hate to break it to you, but a steaming cup of coffee isn’t the only caffeine culprit to avoid before bed. And if you didn’t already know, the darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content. Caffeine may be what we need in the morning to become alert and vigilant but consuming it late in the evening can prevent your body from winding down and also decrease its ability to fall into deeper stages of sleep. This will impact both your mind and body not only for the evening but for following day as well. Simply put, caffeine-interrupted sleep won’t go over too well when you need to be on your a-game for your 8 A.M. Zoom presentation.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cabbage. Broccoli. Cauliflower. Any of these cruciferous veggies should be avoided late in the evening.

Now don’t get us wrong… these vegetables can do a whole lot for your body. After all, they’re loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (AKA plant-based compounds that help to detoxify and even protect against diseases like cancer). However, they pack a mean punch when it comes to their insoluble fiber content, which takes a longer time to properly digest in comparison to soluble fiber. And while insoluble fiber makes stool softer and easier to pass, too much of it might initiate multiple trips to the bathroom during the wee hours. It’s also important to note that this type of fiber is a slow-digesting kind, meaning it’ll take longer for your body to break down. This is something you don’t want to happen when you’re trying to snooze.

Spicy Foods

Foods with a lot of spice aren’t so nice when they make falling into a deep slumber difficult…

If you’re a fan of spicy foods, you’re most likely familiar with the hot sensation they create in your mouth as they’re consumed, but what you might not realize is that they can raise your body’s internal temperature. And trying to comfortably sleep when you’re sweating buckets is almost impossible. Simply put, if you’re already prone to hot flashes, you might want to reconsider adding that heaping amount of chili flakes to your late-night plate of pasta. Oh, and we can’t forget to mention that like those that’re acidic, spicy foods can ignite unfriendly heartburn. They can also create peptic ulcers (AKA sores in the lining of your stomach) when consumed on a routine basis.

Red Meat

If you didn’t already know, having a juicy piece of red meat close to bedtime is a big mis-steak.

Protein-rich meals are great when you need fuel to make it through a busy workday but aren’t the best option when you’ll be hitting the hay not long after enjoying one. This is because meals that contain meat such as steak often contain high amounts of saturated fat, which is a major no-no for those who already struggle with high cholesterol. It also takes the body longer to fully digest a fatty meal, which is a lot more difficult to do when you’re deep in Snoozeville. And not-so-fun fact: high-protein diets have been linked to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, a condition where a person experiences abnormal breathing during sleep.

Pizza

Ah, we love this greasy comfort food to pizzas. But if you love your sleep more, don’t have a slice or five before getting some shuteye.

It’s no surprise that a slice of pizza is high in fat and only worsens pending on the number of toppings you add to it. But what we really want to shed some light on is the amount of gooey cheese that’s often included on these dreamy pieces of dough. If you didn’t already know, cheese is one of the worst foods to consume before bed as it can cause indigestion. And certain types of cheese such as parmesan and cheddar (which are common mozzarella substitutes) contain high levels of tyramine, a compound that can trigger painful migraines. Try sleeping with one of those! Oh, and we can’t forget about the acidic tomato sauce that’s slathered on pizza either. Talk about a triple threat… and not in a good way.

And that’s a wrap on foods that sabotage sleep, folks! We hope the next time you find yourself reaching for a cold slice of leftover pizza at midnight, you’ll remember how it can affect your ability to get a solid snooze. And be sure to follow us on socials! We’d love to know if you’re a late-night snacker (totally not judging) and often find yourself struggling to fall asleep. Talk soon!