12 Foods and Drinks That Will Keep You Up at Night

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Eat and drink your way to a wonderfully deep night's sleep
cake

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12 Foods and Drinks That Will Keep You Up at Night

Tabasco

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If you’ve been struggling to get a good night's sleep, read on to see what foods and drinks our experts recommend avoiding before your head hits the pillow. Follow their advice, and hopefully you will sleep like a baby tonight!

Alcohol

Alcohol

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“Alcohol’s effects on sleep have been well studied.  If you over-consume alcoholic beverages before bed, you may fall asleep quickly, but you won’t sleep soundly,” says Deborah Orlick Levy, registered dietician and Carrington Farms Health and Nutrition Consultant. “Women seem to be especially sensitive to alcohol’s effects on sleep. Women wake up more often after the alcohol leaves their system. This leaves them tossing and turning without adequate REM sleep to promote restfulness.”

Caffeine

Caffeine

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“Whether it is coffee, tea, or soda, any beverage that has caffeine in it can greatly affect your sleep,” explains registered dietician Keri Gans.  “Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant that may cause insomnia in many individuals. Some research recommends that you do not consume any caffeine a minimum of six hours before bedtime.”

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

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The problem with chocolate cake," says Levy, "is three-fold: the cake is high in refined sugar, which will cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels; the cake is loaded with fat, which will result in an over-active digestive system right before bed as it tries break down those fats; and there is some caffeine present in the cake, which can act as a stimulant, so you are unable to fall asleep. If you enjoy chocolate cake, eat it in moderation, hours before you settle down to sleep.”

Dried Fruit

Dried Fruit

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“This can be a healthy late-night option if consumed in small amounts and without any added sugar, as it contains essential nutrients, vitamins, and a high amount of fiber,” explains registered dietician Elyse Sosin. But, she warns, “It is very easy to exceed the recommended portion size and eat a large quantity because much of the water is removed. The high fiber could bother your stomach and cause you to have gas, bloating, and cramps during the night.” 

Fried Onion Rings

Fried Onion Rings

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Fried onion rings are a double whammy in regards to getting a good night’s sleep,” explains Gans. Fried foods in general can cause the production of acid in the stomach, resulting in heartburn. Secondly, onions (regardless of their cooking method) can be a GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) trigger for some people: Not the way to fall into a deep sleep.

Ice Cream

Ice Cream

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“Many of my clients like to eat ice cream at night as it is ‘very soothing’, but it is very easy to over-indulge and portion sizes often end up being quite large,” says Sosin. Fat takes time to digest, and gourmet ice cream can have a significant amount of calories from fat. Furthermore, if you have a lactose intolerance, the lactose in the ice cream may cause extremely uncomfortable abdominal cramping, bloating, and diarrhea.

Movie Theater Popcorn

Movie Theater Popcorn

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“Popcorn is a whole grain and generally good to eat when air-popped," says Sosin. "But there are many toppings and condiments that are added to the popcorn sold in movie theatres to enhance and change the taste, e.g. caramel, salt, butter, cheese, and nuts. Plus, it's typically sold (and eaten!) in large amounts. If you catch a movie and work your way through a bucket of popcorn just before sleeping, you may feel bloated, have some gastrointestinal disturbance, and become very thirsty, requiring additional fluid before bed.”

Red Meat

Red Meat

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Eating red meat before bed forces your digestive system to go into overdrive at a time when it should be settling down” says Levy. “Red meat is high in protein and fat, which takes time to be digested. The digestive process can be disruptive to a sound night's sleep. Eat your red meat earlier in the day so the night can be restful.

Sugary Cereals

Sugary Cereals

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Cereals high in refined sugars can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels,” explains Levy. “This spike and then crash in blood sugar can result in symptoms that lead to restless sleep. As mentioned earlier, the goal is to avoid any foods before bed that don’t allow the digestive system to settle down. Choose whole-grain cereals with very low sugar instead.”

Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco Sauce

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Tabasco sauce might add a little spice to your favorite meal, but it can wreak havoc on your sleep," says Gans.” Spicy foods are a known trigger for gastric reflux, causing heartburn in many individuals, thereby making it impossible to get a good night’s sleep.”

Water (Before Bed)

Water (Before Bed)

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It seems counterintuitive to have to refrain from water consumption, since water is known to be an extremely healthy beverage! However, the more liquids you consume close to bedtime, the more likely it is that you will have to get up and go the bathroom during the night, especially the older you get. Try and taper off fluids at least two to three hours before sleep,” suggests Gans.