Caffeine, whether it’s in the form of coffee, tea, or even chocolate, is a proven sleep disrupter, research has shown. But if you find yourself tossing and turning at night, those foods aren’t the only ones in your diet that may be responsible. Other things you consume before bed can also interfere with your sleep, depending on how your body reacts.
Many people aren’t aware, for instance, that a big meal right before bedtime can be difficult to digest and lead to heartburn and acid reflux, says Carrie Gabriel, RD. “People with a more chronic form of acid reflux known as gastrointestinal reflux disorder, or GERD, can have more issues with sleeping,” she says. Acid reflux occurs when the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus malfunctions and allows food in the stomach to flow back up, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), and lying down after a big meal, as well as certain types of foods, have been known to aggravate this condition.
The CDC recommends that adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night for optimum health and well-being. And it’s not just about feeling tired and cranky, because chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a host of chronic health problems, including high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, depression, and diabetes, according to a study published May 2017 in Nature and Science of Sleep.
Considering how much of an impact sleep (or lack thereof) has on your health and happiness, it’s worth exploring whether your diet could be interfering with your shut-eye. While everyone’s bodies (and digestive systems) differ, and foods that affect your slumber may not make a difference to someone else, Gabriel and other dietitians say the following foods are the most common culprits when it comes to messing with sleep. Pay attention to what you eat before bed, and see if any foods stop you from catching the z’s you want.