What Foods Can Disrupt Sleep? 11 Foods to Avoid Before Bed

Medically Reviewed on 4/6/2022
What Foods Can Disrupt Sleep
If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep, your diet could be to blame. Here are 11 foods and beverages that may be disrupting your sleep

Not getting enough sleep can make you irritable and exhausted the next day. And when it happens frequently, it can lead to serious health problems. If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep, your diet could be to blame. Here are 11 foods and beverages that could be disrupting your sleep and keeping you up at night.

11 foods that can disrupt sleep

1. Spicy foods

Spicy foods can produce unpleasant heartburn, making it difficult to lie down comfortably and fall asleep. Spicy foods can also raise your body temperature, requiring it to work harder to cool down enough to fall asleep. Being too warm can disrupt your sleep patterns and make it difficult to stay asleep.

2. Acidic foods

Acidic foods like tomatoes can cause acid reflux when you lie down. Onions can also make you gassy, and as gas passes through your system, it can put pressure on your stomach and send acid up the esophagus. In addition to being acidic, citrus fruits can cause you to urinate more frequently throughout the night. 

3. Sugary foods

Eating sugary foods before bedtime can disrupt your sleep because blood sugar spikes and fluctuating blood sugar levels can make you restless.

4. Salty foods

You may notice that eating pizza and fries before bed can make it hard to sleep. Part of the reason for this is because foods with high salt content can interfere with your sleep patterns. A diet high in sodium increases your risk of high blood pressure, which is linked to insomnia and other sleep disorders.

5. Greasy foods

According to studies, eating greasy, fatty foods before bed can disturb your sleep because they increase the likelihood of acid reflux or heartburn. 

6. Red meat

One of the most difficult foods for your system to digest is animal meat. Aside from boosting cholesterol and increasing the risk of obesity, high-protein red meat digests slowly and may disrupt your circadian rhythm if consumed close to bedtime. Diets high in protein have also been linked to sleep apnea symptoms, which can cause fatigue and irritability the next day.

7. Dried fruit

Dried fruit is high in fiber and when consumed in moderation, is beneficial to your health. However, you should avoid eating it before bed because the high fiber content can cause bloating and gassiness. Dried fruit also contains a lot of sugar, which can cause blood sugar spikes.

8. Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, are excellent for your health in general, but probably not ideal to eat before bed. They are high in fiber, which takes longer to digest and can keep your body working longer. Cruciferous vegetables can also make you gassy and cause abdominal discomfort.

9. Excess fluids

Drinking large volumes of any fluid in the evening can increase the frequency of urination, leading to nighttime awakenings. While you want to stay hydrated throughout the day, try to avoid drinking too much before bedtime to increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.

10. Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that raises cortisol levels in your body—disrupting melatonin levels in the body that are required for sleep. Caffeine also blocks the binding sites or receptors for another sleep-inducing brain chemical called adenosine. Stop your intake of caffeinated foods and beverages in the afternoon to avoid caffeine from disrupting your sleep.

11. Alcohol

Having a glass of wine or a beer after dinner can be relaxing and enjoyable, but once the alcohol wears off, you may find yourself having trouble staying asleep. Alcohol can also worsen obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) symptoms and make you have to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. 

What happens when you eat right before bed?

In addition to what you eat, when you eat can have a huge impact on your sleep quality. Eating too close to bedtime can put stress on your digestive system, leading to symptoms such as constipation, bloating, and acid reflux. To avoid this, try to stop eating at least 2-3 hours before going to bed. 

While it is advised to avoid late-night snacking, you should also avoid going to bed hungry. Even while sleeping, your body requires energy to function. If you skip meals or go to bed hungry, your body will have less energy to regenerate and repair itself. Hunger pangs can also make it hard to get restful sleep.


Sleep Disorders: Foods That Help Sleep or Keep You Awake See Slideshow

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 4/6/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Simon N. Healthy Living. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2014/foods-that-disrupt-sleep-photo.html#slide1

Rapaport L. Salty Foods Right Before Bed Might Disrupt Sleep. Medscape. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/960547

WebMD. Foods That Help or Harm Your Sleep Slideshow. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-sleep-foods