Foods to Avoid if You Have Trouble Sleeping

Foods To Avoid If You Have Trouble Sleeping

Sleep, considered an essential aspect of a healthy body, must be peaceful and of the best quality.

While innumerable external and internal factors disturb quality sleep, it becomes necessary to examine each element closely and ensure that you receive the most undisturbed beauty sleep.

The article discusses how food can sabotage the quality of sleep.

Have you ever thought eating some of your favorite foodstuffs will keep you deprived of peaceful sleep for a good measurable time of your sleeping hours?

Have you ever considered your favorite food choices leading to less sleep can affect your cognition and can affect your overall health?

As silly as it may sound, your diet can indirectly harm your sleep schedule within a few days.

What if you know that the dinner you eat is why you continuously see the glare in the dark and try to sleep?

Why Is Quality Sleep Important?

Sleeping time is a non-negotiable time that the body needs ultimately every day; you can deprive the body of sleep.

Sleep is a process where your body starts recreating several methods; it helps the body to relax all the muscles, and other organs get some time to rest down, and after the rest, they function too well.

It helps maintain attention and coordination of all the body parts, improves cognitive processes of the brain, keeps you out of feeling low or lazy, and makes you feel energetic.

Thus it becomes necessary to have good quality and sound sleep, to help the body function at its best, and food or your diet can affect sleep.

To understand this, let's start from the basics.

When you consume any foodstuff, the body is trained to look for nutrition, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and other required energy constituents to prepare ATP molecules (energy molecules that help the person achieve good sleep).

Certain items in the regular diet have constituents that either help builds a good sleep routine or hamper the perfect sleep to its extreme.

Many food items in the regular diet create false conditions for the brain, where the brain starts signaling the body part to stay alert and awake for the rest of time when the actual situation or need is to have slept peacefully.

To relate at a level, good sleep can play a vital role in maintaining good health; hence, knowing which foodstuffs can harm your sound sleep becomes necessary.

Once you can relate your diet plan with the quality sleep pattern, you can quickly achieve a healthy lifestyle that improves your sleep quality and eating habits. Once the diet plan fits your healthy lifestyle, you can shift to proper weight quickly.

food before bed

Eating right before bedtime

The most important thing before avoiding any sleep-depriving foodstuffs is to know the exact time to have food. Most people have the habit of eating a heavy meal and dozing off. You should always remember to have dinner 2 hours before bedtime. 

Your stomach can digest heavy meals, but it takes time to do so. Hence a heavy meal is suggested in the breakfast or lunch that allows the body to digest it properly.

Remember to have a light dinner and then sleep. Light dinner doesn't suggest eating half a stomach, it simply means to eat light food instead of heavy spicy, fateful foodstuffs. 

Light food is easy to digest and complete digestion is essential while you try to grab good quality sleep.

Also, keep your dinner minimal. Overloading the stomach elevates the indigestion problems more. The theory is simply to understand. 

The more you eat, the more you struggle to sleep. To see what diet is perfect for you, first of all, learn what you should avoid before that. Let's jump on what you should not eat!

Foods and drinks to avoid before bedtime

Food digestion plays an important role when you want to have a good sleep. Many foodstuffs make you drowsy which people think of as helping in sleep. 

However such food items initially calm down the digestive juices and make people drowsy, but later into the mid-sleep, it constantly irritates the stomach and people can't have deep sleep.

Here's the list of foodstuffs and drinks to strictly avoid at dinner or just before a few hours to bedtime:


Intake of caffeine either in foodstuffs or in drinks seriously affects sleep and results in fewer sleeping hours. Study results show, even the least amount of caffeine like 200 mg taken before 2, 4 or 6 hours disrupts sleep time. 

People are always directed by professionals to strictly avoid caffeine before 6 hours at least. Caffeine reduces sleep by a difference of 2 hours per 400 mg and if the sleep loss of 2 hours per night is extended to a couple of nights affects the bodily functions and cognitive processes.

Caffeine is highly found in tea, soda, coffee, chocolate, chocolate-based snacks etc. Alcohol

Alcohol consumption heavily affects sleep patterns. 

People after consuming alcohol feel drowsy but the studies show how adversely it affects the body and sleep. When alcohol is consumed, it directly starts getting absorbed by the liver and small intestine. 

Later the alcohol is passed into the bloodstream via the liver. The digestive juices from the liver act upon the alcohol and metabolize the alcohol. However, this whole process is a

time-consuming cycle and takes more time to complete the digestion. 

On the other hand, alcohol slows down, the brain processes and thus the brain fails to give fast signals to the body. It further delays the digestion cycle of alcohol.

To sum up the above data, we can say alcohol makes people drowsy but they never fall into a deep sleep as the metabolism process fastens in the nighttime.  

People who consume moderate amounts of alcohol don't usually experience problems but those who are addicted to alcohol have reported problems such as prolonged onset during sleep and insomnia for some time.

coffee before bed

High-fat food

To get sleep instantly, hormones secreted in the body namely melatonin and serotonin along with other brain neurotransmitters are needed. If these hormones are secreted in sufficient amounts, then the time of onset during sleep (the time required to fall asleep after getting in bed) minimizes.

Fats in the body help to secrete the enzymes required making the body relax more. However, the time to consume fats should be before an hour or two of bedtime. This will ensure that the enzymes get sufficient time to work accordingly. 

Frequent intake of high-fat food disturbs weight balance along with sleep patterns of the individual.

Fats are good but high fats are a strict no.  Food products that are high in fats (cheese, butter, excessive cooking oil, icecreams, energy drinks or sweetened drinks etc ) should be avoided before sleep. See what professionals have to say on this topic

Maxine Smith, dietician, Cleveland Clinic

"Carbs are to be eaten an hour or two before bed can help trigger the release of serotonin, melatonin, and other brain neurotransmitters that promote sleep. The guy who gets home late and eats a load of pizza before bed—that’s not going to help him sleep well that night."

Spicy food

Spicy food is a paradise for taste buds, although they aren't that good for sleep. It may be the reason why you toss and turn in your bed continuously.  

Spicy foods are also known for causing a disturbance in the digestion process, too many spicy foods raise the body temperature for some time (Temperature for good sleep)

Though the temperature change is temporary for a very short period, every individual reacts differently to each foodstuff; hence most people find it difficult to sleep after eating a heavy spicy dinner. 

Indigestion of food, heartburn disorder and rise in body temperature is caused due to excessive intake of spices.

Therefore it's always better to avoid a heavy intake of spicy food before your bedtime routine

Acidic food

Like other above-mentioned foodstuffs, acidic foods adversely affect human sleep. The acidic pH of the human body is regulated by the digestive parts. 

When we intake acidic foods, we increase the acidic pH balance however the body is smart enough to tackle the situation. 

But when we lie down, that is the time we sleep; our oesophagus and stomach lining fall in the same plane and the intake food flows back towards the oesophagus. This backward flow results in indigestion and eventually causes acid reflux in the body.

It is more likely to happen during sleep time, irritating the body and hampering sleep. Hence food products high in acid like tomatoes, tomato-based jams, sauces, citric juices etc should be kept minimal and avoided just before bed.


Caffeine is not only the verdict, nicotine intake in many people have resulted in less or poor quality of sleep. Studies say those who intake nicotine in any form before 4 to 6 hours of their bedtime experience less sleep restricted to only 5 to 6 hours per night. 

Most of the products are tobacco based and contain nicotine in them. People have also complained that restricting nicotine has not helped them to sleep better. 

It's true if you stop the intake of nicotine today you won't see results for up to a few weeks as the body isn't trained to function properly with certain changes instantly. See what experts suggest.

Carl E. Hunt, MD, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md

"We know that certain foods that we consume can interfere with sleep. The most obvious one in terms of stimulating wakefulness would be caffeine, and then there's nicotine."

However, you can have peaceful sleep for the rest of your life. Just like caffeine it too adds up to the sleep disorder of insomnia to an extent. Avoid consumption of tobacco, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products, hookahs etc.

Foods that help your sleep

Once you know what not to eat, then go for what you should intake. The overall article states how food and diet affect sleep, so it will be beneficial if you know which food stimulates the sleep enzymes in the body and are good to have before bedtime.

Sleep is stimulated with the help of neurotransmitters supplied to the brain in the form of hormones like serotonin and melatonin. This also regulates the other cognitive functions. These neurotransmitters are highly found in foodstuffs that contain tryptophan. 

Now that you know the key ingredient, include those light meals in your diet that have tryptophan.

You can also add a bedtime drink or snack that helps most in good sleep. 

For example:

Lukewarm milk mixed with a pinch of raw turmeric powder is a scientifically proven method that helps people to sleep quickly, reducing the onset time people spend in their beds. 

Seek help from the dietician to get the best knowledge on this topic. Experts are recommended when you don't know anything and want to start from scratch.

Keep your meal throughout the day healthy, ultimately a healthy diet means healthy sleep. Drink an adequate amount of water to maintain the other bodily organs and temperature of the body to its par.

Foods that help your sleep

Sleep hygiene is important

Along with your proper diet don't forget to maintain your sleep hygiene too. As much as foods and drinks affect sleep, the hygiene of sleep also matters. You can simply learn sleep hygiene by following the below instructions.

  • Set a proper sleep schedule to follow - Timetable for anything helps, make sure your sleep schedule is set after at least an hour of dinner time.
  • Set your sleep and wake up time - This time slot will make the body adaptive and the digestion process will automatically adjust over a period.
  • Don't take nap in the daytime - It's quite obvious if you sleep or nap during the daytime, you'll feel less sleepy at night and this may lead to insomnia.
  • Don't use mobile phones or televisions before sleeping. The use of light-emitting screens doesn't help when you try to sleep.
  • No exercises before bedtime - It means don't do any vigorous exercise that fastens your heart rate and raises your body temperature. It alerts the brain and sleep gets a no entry signal. However, doing such exercises is good only if you do them 6 to 7 hours before bed.

Hope these suggestions might have helped you and also don't forget to scrutinise everything you eat properly during dinner to have proper sleep.

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