By Lucy Miller

A quick bite before bed might sound tantalizing, but did you know certain foods can actually hinder falling asleep?

While there are foods to help you doze off, some are especially troublesome for those who are bed-bound. Instead of reaching for whatever’s available, check out these foods to avoid before going to sleep. You’ll be better off waiting until morning.

Chocolate

Chocolate might make a great dessert, but you’ll want to have it at least three hours before bedtime (as you generally should regardless of what you eat). The sugar content will load you up with energy before your body processes it, plus it’ll disrupt the hormones your brain releases to help you sleep. There’s also the caffeine content in chocolate, which may lead to sleeping problems whether or not it’s a large amount.

Pizza

The combination of acid in the tomato sauce, fat in the toppings, and calories in each slice make pizza a poor pre-bed choice. What’s more is that these ingredients, particularly the acidic ones, can cause indigestion; the fats take a long time to digest, meaning your stomach might keep you up in its food breakdowns. Delicious as pizza may be, save it for tomorrow’s meals.

Spicy Foods

Besides heating up your mouth, the acids found in spicy foods can encourage acid reflux. Since reflux is made worse by lying down, try not having any close to when you want to start relaxation time. The capsaicin, which is what makes them spicy, may upset your stomach and result in sleeping problems.

Soda and Alcohol

It’s better to have alcohol with your dinner than right before bed, since the chemicals can disrupt your normal sleeping habits. It may also prohibit you from getting deep sleep later in the night. As for soda, you already know the caffeine and sugar will prevent restful sleep. The carbonation may increase the chance of acid reflux, and you don’t want to be burping it out all night.

Red Meats

If you’re having a steak or pork chop for dinner, make sure it’s a while before bed. Besides all the fat taking time to move through your digestive tract, the saturated amount may cause you to sleep lightly. The protein present can improve alertness and make relaxation more difficult. What’s more is that cured meats contain an amino acid called tyramine, which helps you stay awake.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Though it may be surprising to see vegetables on this list, these won’t give you a healthful sleep. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and other crunchy green foods feature a large amount of fiber which, like fats, will take a long time to break down. They also feature certain sugars that might cause gas and bloating. While they’re good for digestion during the daytime, you don’t want your body to focus on that when it’s time for slumber.

While eating late at night isn’t the worst thing you could do to your body, many of them aren’t going to do you any favors. It’s best not to snack a few hours before bed at all, but if you do, avoid the foods listed in this article. If you still want to eat, there are foods that help you get to sleep, you just need to know the right ones.

But I recommend to keep things light and on the healthy side before you hit the sack. An empty stomach may keep you up longer with cravings, but the wrong snack could disrupt your whole night.

Lucy Miller

Lucy Miller is a nutrition student, marathon runner, and a passionate writer for Mind Your Zen, a brain nutrition supplement brand. She contributes to a number of blogs, sharing useful health tips from her research as a nutrition student. She can be reached at lucy@mindyourzen.com.