It’s the early hours of the morning and you’re still awake. Instagram is telling you it’s time for bed by politely reminding you that you’re all caught up on two days’ worth of content, but you just can’t fall asleep. Why does this keep happening? As it turns out, the proof is – literally – in the pudding.
Ultimately your body decides when it’s time to shut down, and indulging in the wrong foods can seriously upset your sleep cycle. While most avoid the obvious culprits (hi, coffee), there are some lesser-known evils that you should steer clear of too close to bed time.
What you may view as an after-dinner treat is actually a trick – chocolate is on par with coffee when it comes to sleep interruption. One small bar of dark chocolate contains as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. If you do manage to get some shut eye, you won’t be able to achieve deep sleep and you’ll be struggling to stay awake the next day.
“It would be rude to leave it sitting in the freezer!”, we hear you say. We agree, but save it for the daytime - dairy products are notorious for disrupting your sleep because of the high fat content.
While great for your metabolism, the capsaicin chemical in chilies – the same one that makes your mouth burn – gets your blood flowing and raises your body temperature. This is bad news if you’re aiming to get a good nights' sleep, as your body temperature naturally decreases in the evening to signal to your brain that you’re ready for bed.
You gave in to your cravings and ordered a late-night snack – we’re not judging. However, don’t expect to sleep soundly. The combination of fatty cheese and acidic tomato sauce will spur on acid reflux and you’ll be tossing and turning throughout the night.
It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day, though trying to fill your daily quota too close to bed time means you’ll be in and out of bed all night. Slowly decrease your water intake three hours before you’re planning to sleep.
If you’ve been drinking green tea after dinner as a way to aid digestion, it’s time to switch to camomile. While its beneficial to sip during the day, green tea contains theophylline and theobromine – stimulants that increase the heart rate and keep you alert.
Vegetables like broccoli are packed with vitamins that make it a valuable side dish, however it also includes insoluble fibre that your body will have a hard time digesting. This means your body will continue to work while you’re sleeping, making you uncomfortable and unlikely to get your eight hours.
What To Reach For Instead
Studies have shown kiwis to be one of the most effective snacks to induce sleepiness, and eating just two fruits one hour before bed makes you fall asleep 35 percent faster than your non-kiwi eating insomniacs. This is due to its high levels of antioxidants and vitamins C and E.
The human body naturally produces the sleep hormone melatonin, which signals our body that it’s time to sleep. As luck would have it, these tiny gems are full of it and you only need one ounce of pure cherry juice to sleep through the night.
According to the Journal of Research and Medical Sciences, the magnesium and potassium in bananas work together to make your muscles feel more relaxed, in turn making you feel ready to hit the hay. Eating a banana before bed also increases the quality of sleep, and stops you from feeling groggy when you wake up in the morning.