It’s bedtime and you have a craving for your favourite burger, pizza or steak sub!! If this is you, you should reconsider your late night snacking habits. Studies show although going to sleep feeling very hungry can keep you awake, eating food that will put added stress on your body can be much worse. Controlling the intake of bad fats, sugar, and stimulants like chocolate is the best practice.
Here is a short list of foods that you may be consuming at bedtime and how they wreak havoc with your body and sleep.
Although this fat-laden fast food will clearly quiet your stomach grumblings, this late-night meal will cause your body to rebel. Fat naturally activates the production of acid in your stomach to help with the digestion process but if you are laying down a short while after eating, acid reflux will be the result.
Not only does your metabolism typically slow down at the end of the day, digesting this fatty snack will put a strain on your body’s digestive system, not to mention what the additional salt and fat will do to the rest of you! Have a whole wheat turkey sandwich instead!
A chocolate craving before bedtime will be as lethal to your sleep as a cup of dark roast coffee. Dark chocolate is well known for its bitter taste and antioxidant-fighting properties so enjoy some during the day, like before 4 PM. Milk chocolate is mostly sugar-laden so it will give you that sugar rush you certainly don’t need before bedtime.
Remember that your body is in recovery mode during the night so if you give your body other things to take care of, you will have a restless night. Instead of chocolate to satisfy your taste buds, enjoy a handful of carob nibs. Carob is very similar to cocoa with that sweet and chocolate flavour you are looking for but it is absolutely caffeine-free. An added bonus is that it also possesses antioxidant properties like your favourite dark chocolate!
Cereals are not all created equal. You have your “chalk-tasting” variety, and you have your sugar drenched “kiddie-approved” type. Like milk chocolate, cereals can have enough sugar to not only keep you tossing but add excess fat around your belly. A craving for cereals typically is a craving for sugar so, stop, drop the box and reconsider an alternative. A bowl of multi-grain sugar-free cereal with a sugar-free almond or cashew milk is a great alternative. Cow’s milk has naturally occurring sugar and at times extra is added, so go for the alternative! Lightly seasoned popcorn will be a healthier alternative as well!
Ice Cream or Iced Yogurt
On those hot humid nights when all you want to feel is some relief and you grab a bowl of your favourite ice cream or iced yogurt to satisfy that need! You feel so lousy from all that heat that you decide to add sprinkles and crushed cookies! Yes, that will do! No, wrong again!
Not only are these late night snack items sugar soaked but fat rich as well. If you really need that texture and feel-good sensation ice cream provides, exchange it for a bowl of low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese with a sprinkle of protein-rich chia seeds! Your body will thank you!
Avoid these no-nos of late night snacking and your body will hopefully reward you with a full night of sleep. So you decide!
Angela, Your Sleep expert