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Organic Traditions Blog

5 Foods To Stop Eating Before Bed + 5 To Start

by Alexandra Mamalider on Jul 23, 2021

Picture this: its late at night, you’re binge watching your favourite show snuggled on the couch and you reach for your favourite snacks. What are you grabbing? Are you going salty or sweet? Maybe you’ve even grabbed something healthy! Or maybe you’re just plain hungry. Regardless of what kind of snacker you are, I bet you didn’t know some of those yummy treats are the reason you might be waking up feeling unrested. But don’t fret! We’ve got you covered with 5 foods you should and shouldn’t consume before bed!  

#1 Chocolate  

We know, we love it too, but even when you think you’re making the healthier choice by reaching for dark chocolate over milk chocolate, you could actually be negatively affecting your sleep. Though loaded with healthy antioxidants, dark chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine. Theobromine is a stimulant and vasodilator, which in short, opens up your vessels and gets your blood flowing. While this might be helpful before a workout or as a mid-day pick me up, it might not be something you want happening before bed. In fact, anything caffeinated before bed, such as coffee and some teas, can cause rapid eye movement (REM) to occur and leave you feeling unrested come the morning.  

#2 Spicy Foods  

Now, you might love a little heat in your dishesbut did you know that spicy foods can contribute to nightmares?! Yes, you read that right. Consuming things like hot sauce, curries and even mustard before bed can cause indigestion, heartburn and potentially nightmares. The high level of capsaicin can increase your body temperature and potentially result in an increase in REM. While REM sleep is important, it’s all about balance. Too much or too little REM sleep can leave you feeling restless and even negatively impact your ability to focus the next day. In this case, too much REM sleep cam actually cause you to remember your dreams more vividly. Your body also requires a large amount of energy to digest the spices which could potentially leave you counting sheep all night long.  

#3 Cheese  

Sweet dreams are not made of cheese. Many cheeses, particularly strong or aged ones, have elevated levels of Tyramine which is a naturally occurring amino acid. Tyramine sends the brain into panic mode releasing its “fight or flight” hormone Norepinephrine. Instead of the “flight” into a soundless sleep in your bed, you will be wondering if you have turned off the oven, locked the door or whatever else you have forgotten that is leaving you panicked and up all night.  

#4 Ice Cream  

Sugar rush is a real thing, not just something our parents used as an excuse for our untamable public behaviour as kids. When you eat sugary things at night, AKA ice cream and sweets, your blood sugar levels skyrocket before crashing shortly after. If you have a sugar rush late at night, your crash will occur during sleep, alerting your adrenals that something is very wrong. As a protective measure (and also a lesson for less frequent midnight ice cream treats) your body increases its cortisol levels and wakes you from the deepest of sleeps, leaving you wishing you did not eat that second bowl of ice cream.  

#5 Alcohol 

After a long day, sometimes a glass of wine (or two) is needed to help wind down. You may be thinking the drowsiness caused by alcohol aids sleep, but in fact, it makes it worse. Alcohol negatively affects the 4 sleep cycles our bodies need for a good night’s rest. 3 of these 4 cycles do not involve Rapid Eye Movements (REM) and is mostly comprised of a slow progression of our bodies falling asleep. You repeat these 4 cycles multiple times in a night for a healthy rested sleep. However, because you fall asleep so fast under the influence, this ultimately: 

  1. rushes you into sleep too fast
  2. interrupts later sleep cycles and delays the needed onset of REM sleep in the 4th stage.  

What does all that mean? You fall asleep very quickly for a brief period and then wake up multiple times all throughout the night. This is not the wash, rinse, repeat cycle you want happening when trying to get a good night's sleep.  

You might be wondering “well then, what can I eat before bed?” Here is a quick list of foods that are not only nutritious, but can increase the quality of your sleep: 

#1 Bananas 

Your body will thank you when this potassium and magnesium rich food sends your muscles into pure relaxation mode. No melatonin needed when this fruit’s natural serotonin levels which can help calm you down from your day, making your bed even more a-PEEL-ing (see what we did there?) than usual! 

#2 Almonds  

If you aren’t eating almonds before bed, you are absolutely nuts. Not only loaded with healthy fats, Omega-3's and magnesium, almonds are also high in something called tryptophan. Our bodies do not naturally make tryptophan, so we seek it out in our diets to help with insomnia and stress. When paired with magnesium, tryptophan helps the body relax its muscles and regulate blood sugar levels, sending our bodies into “rest and digest” mode. Our Raw Shelled Almonds are most definitely a good thing to keep in your nightstand for those restless nights. 

#3 Honey  

Honey is something that definitely bee-longs in your nightly routine. Just a spoon full of honey helps your body sleep in several ways. Have you ever woken up hungry and wondered why? That is because your liver is alerting your brain that your glycogen levels are low. Honey single handedly increases glycogen levels and lets your brain know not to do this, letting you stay asleep longer. The sugar in honey also causes your insulin levels to spike, releasing tryptophan, which your body turns into serotonin before becoming melatonin. As we know, melatonin = sleep. How sweet is that?! 

#4 Cherries  

Did you know that cherries are one of best snacks to consume before bed? That is because these little tart fruits are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, which we know is responsible for promoting deeper, longer, and more restful sleeps. Next time you’re reaching for a midnight snack, try our Dried Cherries! 

#5 Oats 

When we think oats, we typically think of breakfast. However, did you know that oats are a great night snack? Oats are rich in certain vitamin and minerals which result in an increase in insulin production when consumed. As this results in an increase in blood sugar levels, our bodies can relax and sleep more easily. Our On-The-Go Oats make for a great quick nighttime snack! 

Now that you know the Do’s and Don’ts of late-night snacking, which one is going to be your go to?! Visit our website to get some food inspo ideas and don’t forget to tag us in your posts! Stay tuned next week for some more tips and tricks to a healthy lifestyle!  

Now that you know what not to eat before bed and have an idea of what can actually improve the quality of your sleep – what will be your go-to midnight snack?! Let us know in the comments!