6 foods that surprisingly keep you awake at night

by Corrie Pikul

You know not to drink coffee after 4 p.m., but what about these other surprising stimulants?

Sports-Bar Food
Research shows that high-fat indulgences such as french fries, potato chips and mozzarella sticks can not only throw off the scale, but they can also disrupt sleep cycles.A better sleep snack: Edamame (boiled soybeans in the pod, served sprinkled with salt) is high in magnesium, which has been shown in some studies to improve the quality of sleep of insomnia patients.

Raw broccoli, cauliflower and carrots will make you feel full quickly… but will still be moving uncomfortably through your digestive system long after you pull up the covers.A better sleep snack: Bananas contain sleep-inducing tryptophan and magnesium as well as (bonus!) potassium, which can prevent middle-of-the-night charley horse.

Cured Meat
Bacon, pepperoni and sausage contain high levels of tyramine, an amino acid that boosts the secretion of the brain stimulant norepinephrine.A better sleep snack: A turkey sandwich on whole wheat toast. Don’t forget the bread: The complex carbs combined with the tryptophan in the turkey will stimulate the production of serotonin, which can make you feel drowsy.

Heart Healthy Chocolate
You know chocolate has caffeine, but you may be surprised to hear that some of the darker bars can have as much as 80 milligrams — the amount in a can of Red Bull. As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the stronger the stimulant.A better sleep snack: Save the chocolate for breakfast (really! Research shows it can help you maintain a healthy weight), and at night, snack on trail mix with walnuts, almonds and dried tart cherries. All three are edible sources of melatonin, a hormone that promotes a more restful sleep.

Slumber Party Snacks

In a small study published in 2000 in The Journal of the Mind and Body, participants who gorged on ice cream and candy bars a half-hour before bed were more likely to have nightmares than when they ate normally.A better sleep snack: Nonfat popcorn will take the edge off your hunger but won’t make you feel stuffed… or scared.

A Decaf Latte
A 2007 Consumer Reports study found that the amount of caffeine in “decaf” drinks sold at coffee shops varied from less than 5 milligrams to levels high enough to interfere with sleep. While a generic 8-ounce cup of decaf has 3 to 12 ounces, a decaf from Dunkin’ Donuts had 32 milligrams — as much as a 12-ounce bottle of Coke.

A better sleep snack: There’s no conclusive proof that chamomile tea will put you to sleep, but it’s been used for thousands of years as a calming natural remedy.

As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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