Foods that May Stop You from Sleeping

If you're having trouble falling or staying asleep, staying asleep, it may have something to do with your eating (and drinking) habits.

A heavy meal eaten too close to bedtime can make you feel uncomfortably full or cause indigestion, both of which can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. As a rule, eating anything more than a light snack before bedtime can cause difficulty in falling or  staying asleep. Some foods and beverages not only interfere with sleep; they work hard to keep you awake.

Coffee and other caffeine-containing foods and beverages such as black or green tea, cola drinks, and chocolate have different effects on different people. But since caffeine is a known stimulant that stays in your body for about 12 hours after it is consumed, it is very likely to interfere with sleep if you have too much or take it too close to bedtime. If you drink a cup of coffee at four in the afternoon, half the caffeine from that cup is still in your system at 10 o'clock at night.

Energy drinks: Just in case you misunderstand where that energy is coming from, take a look at the label.  Your energy drink most likely gets its stimulating effect from caffeine, which may be easily identified or it may be buried amongst an array of herbs, nutritional supplements, or other substances on the container's ingredient list that may or may not contain stimulants. Some exotic-sounding ingredients used in energy drinks, such as guarana and yerba mate, are actually just extracts from caffeine-containing plants.

Alcoholic beverages or foods that contain alcohol may help you fall sleep quickly but at the same time, may interfere with normal sleep cycles. Like caffeine, alcohol affects everyone differently. You may not be able to sleep though the night and you are likely to experience disruptions of the most restorative stages of sleep.

Pizza, pastries and other dense, rich, fatty, sugary or spicy foods, all weigh heavy on your digestive system. When your body has to work hard to digest and absorb foods, or is irritated by peppery, hot foods, it will have a hard time relaxing and falling asleep. If you're hungry and it's close to bedtime, eat a small portion of something light, such as 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt topped with a little fresh fruit.

Water: Too many fluids close to bedtime can cause you to wake up repeatedly throughout the night by interrupting routine sleep cycles and increasing the need to get up and urinate during the night.



Southern Methodist University: Insomnia


Columbia College Chicago: Sleep Hygiene


University of Utah: Sleep Difficulties