It’s 10 p.m. and you’re all set to get a good night’s rest, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to shake that gnawing feeling of an empty stomach. But with so many choices in your pantry and fridge, healthy or otherwise, it’s tough to decide which one you should choose.
Though there are some snacks that you would (and should) easily reach for during the daytime, choosing the wrong late-night food can damage the quality of your sleep while also sabotaging any weight loss goals that you have set for yourself. And because your body repairs your muscles while you sleep, it’s important to get a peaceful night of rest to build up your muscles and prepare for the next day’s workout.
So, what are the worst foods that you can eat at night? And what are some alternatives to these foods, just in case you’re craving that specific flavor? Here are the top five foods you shouldn’t reach for if you’re looking to get some quality sleep.
1. Dark chocolate
Though you may snack on dark chocolate during the day when you’re craving something sweet, it’s one of the top foods that can keep you awake for hours after your bedtime. Health states that dark chocolate is one of the healthiest forms of chocolate that you can put in your body because of its high levels of antioxidants, but if you’re sensitive to caffeine, then it may keep you up. Half of a Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate bar contains 20 milligrams of caffeine, which is the same amount as half an ounce of espresso.
Dark chocolate also contains theobromine, a mild stimulant that promotes alertness for more sustained periods of time than caffeine. Theobromine’s effects are milder than caffeine’s, so you may not even realize that you’re feeling more energized, but when it comes time to sleep, it may be the reason that you can’t.
Try eating carob chips instead of dark chocolate the next time it’s late — they are similar to cocoa in that they come from a pod of a tropical tree, yet they contain no caffeine. Bodybuilding.com suggests eating a handful of these instead of the dark chocolate if you’re looking for that rich, slightly sweet flavor at night.