9 Foods That Sabotage Your Sleep

Wake up refreshed after no longer snacking on these foods before bed.

With so many aspects of daily life battling for our attention, it's hard enough to get a good night's rest. Food shouldn't be one more contributing factor hurting our sleep.

Briana Rodriquez, RDN, a nutritionist and certified personal trainer for Jenny Craig, shared her tips on the top ingredients, snacks, and drinks keeping us from sleeping soundly.

To start, she recommends eating a bigger breakfast and lighter dinner, as consuming larger meals means you need a longer time to digest. "If you head to bed after a heavy meal, your digestion is going to slow and that food is going to be stored instead of used as energy. The result can be highly uncomfortable and keep you awake," Rodriquez says. This is particularly problematic if you have digestive issues, like acid reflux.

Consider skipping some of these foods a few hours before bedtime and you may find yourself with the solution to those under-eye circles—and *finally* feeling energized when the alarm goes off.

01 of 09

Spicy Foods

For those who love when their food has some kick, be careful when having spice in the evenings. Strong spices can potentially cause heartburn and indigestion, both which can worsen when lying down (translation: major trouble for sleep). If heartburn is an issue for you, have the spice for earlier in the day when you have adequate time to digest.

02 of 09


Having a night cap or glass of red wine before bed is a common wind-down ritual for many. And though alcohol might help some people fall asleep, studies have shown it actually prevents us from staying asleep. Booze causes many to toss and turn throughout the night, which means you're likely going to wake up tired. Reach for another relaxing drink like chamomile tea.

03 of 09


For those who can handle their fair share of caffeine, it may be no big deal to have a cup in the late afternoon or evening. But if you're even slightly sensitive to caffeine's jitter-inducing effects, don't reach for a cup of joe within six hours of your planned bedtime. If you need a jolt to finish off the workday, Rodriquez recommends green tea or sparkling water instead.

RELATED: Exactly How Much Coffee You Should Be Drinking Each Day, According to a Recent Study

04 of 09

Dark Chocolate

We often forget that dark chocolate contains caffeine. While it's the healthier choice between milk and white chocolate, try to enjoy your sweet snack at least a few hours before bed. Just like coffee, the caffeine in dark chocolate acts as a stimulant, hindering your chances for restful sleep.

05 of 09


"Delicious, I know! But pizza has tomato sauce on it which is acidic and can lead to an upset stomach," Rodriquez says. And if you add red pepper flakes to your pizza, the combination of tyramine, acidity, and spiciness is most likely going to leave you with indigestion that makes it harder to rest. Opt for this meal earlier in the day if you can.

06 of 09


We're well aware that soda is loaded with sugar and empty calories. When you drink it before bed, your digestion slows and your body will likely store the calories as opposed to using that energy. Soda also contains caffeine.

07 of 09

Cured Meat and Cheese

Cured meats and aged cheeses are a sneaky source of tyramine, the brain activity-boosting amino acid that can make some of us feel wired. Indulge earlier in the day so you can ramp down in the evening.

08 of 09

Fatty, Sugary Foods

Avoid high-fat and sugar-filled snacks and meals before hitting the hay—these foods have been associated with disrupted sleep. Consider high-protein, low-fat meals in the evening to help fall asleep faster.

09 of 09

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are natural diuretics. Consume them before bedtime and you might be visiting the restroom frequently instead of getting a good night's rest.

Was this page helpful?
Real Simple is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy.
  1. Asl SF, Mansour-Ghanaei F, Samadi H, Joukar F. Evaluations of life style factors and the severity of gastroesophageal reflux disease; a case-control studyInt J Mol Epidemiol Genet. 2015;6(1):27-32.

  2. Spadola CE, Guo N, Johnson DA, et al. Evening intake of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine: night-to-night associations with sleep duration and continuity among African Americans in the Jackson Heart Sleep Study. Sleep. 2019;42(11):zaz136. doi:10.1093/sleep/zsz136

  3. Andersen G, Marcinek P, Sulzinger N, Schieberle P, Krautwurst D. Food sources and biomolecular targets of tyramine. Nutr Rev. 2019;77(2):107-115. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuy036

  4. St-Onge MP, Mikic A, Pietrolungo CE. Effects of diet on sleep quality. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(5):938-949. doi:10.3945/an.116.012336

Related Articles