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Foods to avoid if you want a restful night’s sleep - and what you should eat instead

You’re just heading up the stairs, ready to go to bed, when your stomach rumbles. You may have heard that eating a large meal shortly before bed is a bad idea, but trying to get to sleep with an empty, gurgling stomach is no more restful. So what foods should you avoid eating just before going to bed and what makes a great pre-bed snack? Spicy food Eating before bed isn’t a bad idea, as long as you are mindful of what you are eating. If you’re the kind of person who likes a late-night curry on the way home from the pub, you could be setting yourself up for an unsettled night, since spicy foods and alcohol can both affect the quality of your sleep. Spicy foods, as well as greasy and fatty foods, take much more effort to digest and could prevent your body from winding down properly. Large, heavy meals The same goes for large or heavy meals, which also take the body longer to break down. This can lead to an excess of stomach acid that can, in turn, cause indigestion. Indigestion will definitely affect the quality of your sleep, and if you have ever suffered from it, you will know how uncomfortable it can make you. What about cheese? It’s frequently said that eating cheese before bed can cause nightmares and disturbed sleep, but the opposite could be true. The British Cheese Board did a study involving 200 people who each ate 20g of cheese half an hour before bed every day for a week. None of the participants could remember having any nightmares and 75% actually felt well-rested. This could well have been because cheese contains tryptophan, an amino acid that has been proven to bring about sleep. A small amount of cheese before bed is actually fine. What else should you eat? If you feel hungry just before going to bed, the best thing to eat is a small snack rich in protein or complex carbohydrates. It won’t require a lot of effort from the body to digest and will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Good snacks before bed include raw vegetables, yoghurt, white meat like chicken or turkey, a piece of toast, or a banana.