Eating right before sleep can impact the quality and quantity of your sleep

At night, when you're winding down and getting ready to call it a day mentally, your body is also starting to shut down. Your metabolism goes into hibernation mode and prepares to shut down for the night to recover and rejuvenate. Eating in the hours before sleep is hard work on the digestive system, stressful for the body and can decrease the quantity and quality of your sleep. You'll have a less restful sleep if you eat before you go to bed because your body is working so hard. This can lead to fatigue, sluggishness and general grumpiness, making you unpleasant to be around.  

 Here is a list of the 6 foods not to eat in the 2-3 hours before you go to bed.

1) Fatty foods

Sleeping Toulouse-LautrecCredit: Toulouse-Lautrec

Fatty foods like fast food, nuts, ice cream, anything deep fried or super cheesy foods are tasking for the body, slow down the emptying of your stomach and can reduce the effectiveness and length of your sleep. They can also make you feel sluggish the next day.

2) Red meat and other proteins

Just like fatty foods, eating animal protein late at night will not only make you sluggish, but the food will sit in your stomach as body churns to digest it and make it hard for you to fall asleep while. Red meat might be the worst offender, but even eating lean protein like chicken or pork would have the same effect. Avoiding all proteins isn't necessary. Just make you eat light and lean portions of foods like sliced turkey breast or yogurt.

3) Spicy Foods and garlic

It's an urban myth that easting spicy food right before bed will lead to nightmares, but easting hot or garlic heavy foods can cause indigestion and even gastric reflux. A study conducted by researchers at the Department of Biochemistry of University of Tasmania1 showed that healthy men eating meals containing Tabasco sauce and mustard just before sleep had dramatic affects on sleep quality. The subjects spent less time in Stage 2 sleep, know as the light phase and Stage 3 & 4, the deep, slow-wave phase of sleep. This meant that they had less sleep over all and took significantly longer to drift off, which can lead to further stress and even less sleep.

4) Caffeine

This is a no brainer, especially if you don't drink much caffeine and have a high sensitivity to  it. Caffeine is a stimulant that works on the central nervous system. If you consume too much, you'll find it tough, if not impossible, to fall asleep. Avoid coffee, non-herbal teas, caffeinated sodas and even chocolate before bedtime.

5) Alcohol

One drink a day can be good for you, even make you drowsy, but if you're low energy, it can disrupt your sleep. Also going to sleep drunk can suppress the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) which is responsible for relaxing your muscles and lowering your heart rate. So if you consume too much alcohol, you might pass out, but you're unlikely to have a restful night of recuperative sleep.

6) Large Meals

Finally, if you're absolutely starving and have to eat something, avoid consuming a large meal. Instead have a small bowl of soup, fresh fruit, some steamed vegetables, a fruit smoothie or the aforementioned light protein.

 But you really shouldn't be eating anything right before bed. Ideally your last intake of food should around 2-3 hours before your go bed.

 Since your capacity to digest goes down as the day goes on, if you need to have a big meal, do it at breakfast or lunchtime, when your capacity is at it's highest.

1 Spicy meal disturbs sleep: an effect of thermoregulation?, International Journal of Psychophysiology (