When You Eat Spicy Food Before Bed, This Is What Happens

Many people enjoy snacking before bed. Whether you had an early dinner or like to munch on something while you watch television, this is a common practice. However, what you eat before heading to bed can have a huge impact on your sleep that night. Multiple studies have found that eating spicy food too close to your bedtime can negatively affect your ability to fall and stay asleep.

One small study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology found that eating Tobasco sauce with an evening meal resulted in sleep loss for several healthy young men. The study authors believed that this was because eating spicy food can raise your body's temperature and therefore make it harder for you to relax at night. This theory has been supported by other studies including a 2008 study that reviewed the relationship between insomnia and body temperature.

Eating spicy food at night can also cause heartburn, which can disrupt your sleep as well. Heartburn occurs when food and/or acid from the stomach leaks up into the esophagus (via Medical News Today). Spicy food is often a trigger for people who frequently experience heartburn, so it's a good idea to avoid it before heading to bed.

Other foods to avoid before bed

Spicy food isn't the only thing that can negatively affect your sleep. Any food that is high in sugar will raise your insulin levels and give you a quick boost of energy when you eat it (via The Guardian). If this happens to you before heading to bed, you may find it difficult to fall asleep. "When you eat sugar, your blood sugar levels rise and your pancreas releases insulin, which helps the sugar to be taken back into the cells, giving them fuel to run on," said dietitian Alex Evans. "Eating sugar late at night overstimulates you. It gives you energy and makes you ready for activity, but that is not what we're trying to do at night. We're designed to shut down towards the end of the day."

Generally, it's a good idea to avoid any foods that make you feel nauseous, uncomfortable, or jittery before heading to bed. If you do like to snack in the evening, some of the best foods to eat include beans, lentils, nuts, poultry, and whole grains, which all contain compounds that can naturally make you feel more tired.