The Absolute Worst Food to Eat Before Bed
We've all been there: it's nighttime, well after dinner, but your tummy is still rumbling. You're looking for something satisfying to silence your hunger pangs and help you fall into a cozy, restful slumber. Or maybe it's been a late night with a few cocktails and now your late-night cravings get the best of you. But before you chow down, you should know some foods can disrupt sleep pretty badly.
That's right, some foods can potentially wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. In addition to tacking on extra calories at the end of your day—which can derail weight-loss efforts—eating the wrong food before bed can lead to indigestion and a night of tossing and turning from discomfort. If you're eating a diet that is high in saturated fat, processed carbohydrates, and sugar this has been proven to disrupt your sleep, too. So it not only matters what you're eating later at night but throughout the day, too.
And it's no secret that sleep is an important aid in maintaining and losing weight because it's believed to help regulate two important hormones related to hunger, ghrelin and leptin. Several studies have even unveiled an association between obesity and shorter sleep duration. Essentially, those who sleep less are more likely to consume more calories during the day than those who sleep a sufficient amount each night. Eating late at night could disrupt your sleep cycle, causing you to lose hours that are vital to your health. (If you want to do some good for your health, be sure to try out any of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now!)
But there is one food that is the absolute worst to eat before sleeping…
What's the one food you should never eat before going to sleep?
Pizza. Specifically, pepperoni pizza. And if you love to add peppers or crushed red pepper flakes on your pie, it's even worse.
How and why does pizza disrupt sleep?
For people who already have a sensitive GI tract, they know that no slice of pizza is complete without heartburn medication and a hefty supply of antacids. The spiciness of the pepperoni and the acid in the tomato sauce can lead to a sour stomach, or worse.
"The combination of fat in the cheese and the acid in the tomato sauce can have a negative impact on your sleep quality," Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, has explained to us. "High-acid foods can trigger acid reflux, especially when eaten close to bedtime. Even if you don't feel 'heartburn,' this reflux can cause you to awaken partially from sleep and leave you tired the next day."
In addition to heartburn, the high-fat content in the cheese can give you indigestion, which is an overall uncomfortable feeling. Spending the night downing TUMS or Pepto-Bismol instead of actually sleeping will undoubtedly lead to a poor night's sleep. It's best to avoid these acid reflux triggers altogether before bed. There's another component to cheese that may be keeping you up at night, too. (And just so you know, this is the easy way to make healthier comfort foods!)
Sure, cheese is delicious, which is why pizza is one of America's favorite foods. But it can also put stress on your digestive system (mainly, your bowel movements) if you're even moderately intolerant to lactose. About 65% of adults are lactose intolerant, the National Institutes of Health estimates. As people get older, they tend to lose the enzymes that help digest lactose, the sugar found in dairy. Because the bacteria in your colon loves to feed on these sugars, this can result in uncomfortable GI issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
So it's no surprise that eating a lot of dairy at a time right before bed could potentially disrupt your sleep. Skip the pizza before bed so you can get longer, more restful sleep.
If you're looking for which foods will keep you best on track with your healthy eating goals, try out any of these 150+ recipe ideas that get you lean for life.