If you're having trouble sleeping, what about a midnight snack? It can be a good idea. But be careful to avoid these five foods that can *prevent* you from getting a good night's rest:
1. Preserved and smoked meats. Slap your hand away when it reaches to make a ham sandwich as an evening snack. Ham, bacon, sausages, and smoked meats contain high levels of the amino acid tyramine, which triggers the brain to release norepinephrine, a brain stimulant that makes us feel alert and wired.
2. Chocolate. Love an evening cup of cocoa? That sundae in front of the TV? Be careful of chocolate in all its disguises. Many people are increasingly sensitive to caffeine as they get older, and even the little chocolate chunks in chocolate chip ice cream could zap you just enough to prevent ZZZZs. Chocolate also contains tyrosine, a stimulating amino acid.
3. Energy drinks. Red Bull and other energy drinks are high in caffeine as well as the amino acid taurine, which boosts alertness and adrenaline. Recent studies have shown that even if you drink energy drinks early in the day, the combined high dosage of taurine and caffeine can make it hard to sleep, or to sleep well, later on.
4. Tomato sauce, chili, pizza, and spicy foods. Digestive disturbances are a common source of sleep problems, but many people fail to make the connection. Acidic and spicy foods can cause reflux, heartburn, and other symptoms that interrupt sleep.
5. The nightcap. A drink or two may make you feel more relaxed after dinner, but it comes back to haunt you -- literally -- a few hours later, by preventing you from achieving deep sleep. And because alcohol both dehydrates you and makes you have to pee, it wakes you up, too. Wine is high in the stimulant tyrosine as well.