15 healthy foods that are disrupting your sleep

Worst Foods For Sleep

I will spare you the extensive lecture on the health benefits of getting a good night's rest. I'm sure you've heard it before, but what might surprise you is the number of healthy foods that are actually disrupting your sleep.

Contrary to popular belief, having a small snack before bed can actually help you sleep, but you need to make sure that you're consuming the right things. Just like exercise, certain foods that may be good for you throughout the day should be avoided close to bed time.

1. Red Wine

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

It's no secret that red wine has a number of health benefits. It can improve your cholesterol, boost your immune system, and enhance brain functioning. But any alcohol too close to bed time will disrupt the REM sleep cycle, so be sure to enjoy your daily glass of red wine earlier in the evening.

2. Dark Chocolate

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Like red wine, dark chocolate contains a number of antioxidants that are beneficial for your heart and brain. However, because chocolate contains trace amounts of caffeine, indulging too late at night could make you restless. Be sure to enjoy your homemade dark chocolate bark at least two hours before you plan on sleeping.

3. Green Tea

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Over the last few years, green tea has gained a lot of praise for its many health benefits. But just like dark chocolate, tea contains caffeine, so don't pour a cup unless your planning on staying up late.

4. Chicken

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Starting your morning with a high-protein breakfast will help keep you full and fueled throughout the day. However, protein can be difficult to digest, and when your body is focused on digestion, it becomes more difficult for your body to rest. So all high-protein foods, even lean meats such as chicken, should be avoided late at night.

5. Seafood

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Although it's a good source of healthy fats, seafood also packs enough protein to keep you up at night. Try mixing it up and enjoying your salmon in a breakfast scramble instead.

6. Grapefruit

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Grapefruit sorbet may serve as a healthier alternative to ice cream, but just don't eat it too late at night. The high amount of acid in this nutrient-dense fruit can cause uncomfortable heartburn that's sure to keep you up.

7. Water

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

We all know that we need to drink more water throughout the day, but during the few hours before you go to sleep, you may want to consider putting the glass down. Drinking too much water before bedtime will cause you to wake up and have to pee throughout the night.

8. Celery

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Because of its high water content, eating a ton of celery late at night will have the same effect as drinking too much water. Instead, enjoy celery in your lunch by making this refreshing summer salad.

9. Watermelon

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Although delicious and nutritious when blended into a mint smoothie, watermelon also contains too much water to be a good late night snack. Bring it on your afternoon picnic, but skip it before going to bed.

10. Tomatoes

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Tomatoes contain large amounts of tyramine, an amino acid which triggers the brain to release norepinephrine. This chemical stimulates brain activity. So a tomato and egg scramble may be a great breakfast before a long day of classes, but stay away from tomatoes late at night to avoid racing thoughts while trying to sleep.

11. Broccoli

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

This nutrient-rich vegetable may reduce the risk of cancer, but its health benefits don't make it easier to digest. Broccoli contains difficult-to-digest fibers that make it a less than ideal late night snack.

12. Cauliflower

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Broccoli's white cousin makes a great low-carb alternative to pizza crust and bread, but be sure to enjoy these healthy "indulgences" earlier in the evening. Because it also contains fibers that aren't easily digested, cauliflower can keep you from getting a good night's rest.

13. Spices

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Not only do spices add flavor without calories, but many have their own unique health benefits. But eating food with too many spices, especially ginger or chili powder, can cause heartburn. Eat heavily spiced food earlier in the evening to avoid any discomfort while you're trying to sleep.

14. Raw onion

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

People may shy away from onions on date night because they cause bad breath, but did you also know that they can cause gas? Excess bloating late at night can become so uncomfortable that you can't sleep, so if you want to eat onions with dinner, try cooking them to lessen the effect.

15. Dried Fruit

Foods that are disrupting your sleep

Spoon already called out dried fruit for having too much added sugar, but many people still consider it a healthy snack. While it may not be too bad to enjoy a handful in the afternoon, eating all that added sugar at night will prevent you from getting a restful sleep.

Related: Foods nutritionists won't touch:

Foods nutritionists won't eat
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Foods nutritionists won't eat

Diet Soda

"I cut out diet soda from my life about five years ago. I came to the conclusion that I didn't need a dose of artificial ingredients on a daily basis, and I would be much better off drinking water and plant-based beverages, such as home-brewed iced tea, hot tea (herbal and regular), and coffee during the day. I don't believe there's enough science today to indicate that the diet beverages are harmful, but I also don't think there is any true benefit to including them. About a year ago I tried a diet soda on a plane — after not tasting one for several years — and I found that it tasted absolutely awful. So, I guess I haven't been missing much!" — Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of Plant-Powered for Life

Carnival Corn Dog

"You'll never catch me eating a carnival corn dog -- so creepy. I know wayyy too much about what's lurking inside of fatty, processed hot dog meat: corn syrup, nitrates, fillers, fat and more fat. In fact, there's very little protein. Place it on a wooden stick, cover it in refined cornmeal batter and fry it up in a vat of oil? No thanks!" -- Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., founder of Nourish Snacks and nutrition/health expert for NBC's Today Show


"I'm not saying I would starve to death before eating one, but they are definitely a food I avoid even when there are very [few] choices available. Here is why: They are basically a big bowl of sugar! The refined-carb product contains no nutrients that are beneficial for health or provide satiety. And they are easily overeaten for this reason -- they have no fiber, protein or healthy fat. I always imagine a bag of pretzels as the same thing as a big bag of jelly beans. Those sugar calories affect your hormones and cause you to gain. And for what? A boring pretzel? No, thanks." -- Keri Glassman, RDN, CDN, of Nutritious Life

Fat-Free Whipped Topping

"The one food I would never eat is fat-free whipped topping. I find it tastes like the artificial ingredients it is made of, and I don't care for it. If I want a creamy dessert topping, I use a small dollop of fresh whipped cream -- a little goes a long way to make a dessert special -- and you cannot beat its taste. Or, to lighten that up naturally and deliciously, I will fold in some plain Greek yogurt, for a topping that is wonderful with any fruit-based dessert." -- Ellie Kreiger, RDN, nutritionist, TV Personality and award-winning cookbook author

Blended Coffee Drinks

"I am an avid coffee drinker who enjoys a morning and afternoon java run, but the assorted-flavor, sugar-loaded, blended coffee drinks are definitely something that I stay away from. These blends can go up to 81 grams of sugar!!! That amount of sugar is the equivalent of drinking two cans of soda, roughly 20 teaspoons of pure sugar, which can spike your insulin and build fat around your waistline. Aside from the sugar content, these drinks can have up to 510 calories, which can be a whole meal for some people." -- Manuel Villacorta, M.S., R.D., author of Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet

Imported Farm-Raised Shrimp

"I make a conscious effort to purchase and consume sustainable seafood, for both environmental and personal health. Imported shrimp are often unsustainably farmed and laden with chemicals and antibiotics. Sticking to this can certainly be a challenge, since 94 percent of the shrimp we consume in the U.S. is imported!" -- Kristy Del Coro, M.S., R.D., CDN, senior culinary nutritionist at SPE Certified

Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter

"Many of my clients are surprised to hear that most reduced-fat peanut butter is not necessarily a healthier version of regular peanut butter. While both regular and reduced-fat peanut butter contain about the same amount of calories (200 calories for two tablespoons), the reduced-fat variety contains more refined carbohydrates and sugar. Why? The fat that would be in the reduced-fat peanut butter spread is replaced with ingredients like corn syrup solids, sugar and molasses (read: even more sugar), plus starchy fillers. Those add-ins boost the spread's sugar content to 4 grams and its total carbs to 15 grams. Compare that with natural peanut butter, which has just 1 gram of sugar and 6 grams of carbs." -- Tanya Zuckerbrot, M.S., R.D., CEO of F-Factor, author of The Miracle Carb Diet

Nacho Cheese 

"The nacho cheese at any concession stand, like a football game, ballpark, or fair. The nacho cheese is just a sauce that usually doesn't use real cheese, and it grosses me out, as it always looks the exact same and I know it is fake and cheaply made." -- Mitzi Dulan, Author of The Pinterest Diet and Team Nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals


"Lots of people are jumping on the cricket bandwagon, but you won't be catching me eating cricket products. I know that they are an amazing protein source that's great for the planet, but I just can't bring myself to eat them. I think I could choke them down if I was in the wild with Bear Grylls, but as a post-workout snack, I just can't go there." --  Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of Eating in Color

Raw Oysters

"I won't eat raw oysters on the half shell. ... I don't trust them to be safe. Plus, they are slimy and I don't get to chew them, just swallow them. That's no fun." -- Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., Boston-area sports nutritionist and author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

Pre-Baked Toaster Pastries

"The serving size for one toaster pastry, with most flavors, averages about 200 calories and 15 to 20 grams of sugar. But most people eat two pastries (which come in a typical package), doubling the calories and sugar. These toaster pastries also have little fiber and protein, two nutrients that should be included in a healthy breakfast." -- Jim White, R.D., CPT, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios


"Although I admit that I enjoy the aroma and sounds of sizzling bacon, and I find it amazing that our country has such a fascination with this breakfast meat, I'm still happy, however, to take a pass on consuming it. Sixty-eight percent of bacon's calories come from fat, half of which is the saturated type. Each strip of bacon contains almost 200 milligrams of sodium, and most people don't stop at one strip. But hey -- even though everyone should have a splurge now and then, it's not just the nutrient quality that bugs me about bacon. Bacon comes from the long layers of fat from the pig's belly, running parallel to the rind. Not a pretty picture ... and not on my plate." -- Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, owner of BetterThanDieting.com


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