The Enemies of Sleep – Avoid These 5 Foods to Sleep Better

Can’t capture that elusive eight hours of sleep?  Waking up in the middle of the night restless?  It may be what you’re eating during the day that is stopping you from getting the rest you need.  Here are seven things that may be robbing you of the sleep you need.

  1. Caffeine.  This may be a no-brainer, but many are surprised by how soon they should stop drinking caffeinated beverages.  It is suggested that you stop after lunch if you want to get a good night’s rest.  Keep in mind that foods like chocolate also contain caffeine.
  2. High-Fat Foods.  These have been linked to poor quality of sleep. Fat triggers the buildup of stomach acids that, when lying down, can cause uncomfortable acid reflux. A high-fat diet also interferes with the production of orexin, one of the neurotransmitters that helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle along with melatonin.
  3. Water.  If you want to avoid middle-of-the night bathroom trips, it is good to refrain from drinking too much water late at night.  Keep in mind that some foods like watermelon, tea, parsley, and even decaffeinated coffee contain diuretics that push more water through your system as well.
  4. Alcohol. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep faster, but you are most likely to wake in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep.  It also interferes with REM sleep, the restorative part of the sleep cycle.  This can cause you to wake up feeling as if you haven’t rested at all.  Aim for one glass of wine with dinner several hours before you go to bed.  Moderation will save your sleep quality.
  5. Spicy Foods. Some like it hot but it isn’t good for sleep.  Spicy foods eaten close to bedtime are a surefire way to suffer from heartburn when you lie down.  Stomach acids can creep up into the esophagus when you are in a prone position, which can lead to quite a lot of discomfort during sleep.  If you like spicy food, eat it for lunch so your stomach has time to settle.

If you have avoided all these on my list and are still struggling to get a good night’s sleep, it may be time to look at what you are sleeping on.  Sometimes simply upgrading your mattress (say, adding a Tempur-Pedic topper) or getting a new one when your mattress is old will help a lot.  If you have tried everything, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder.  Contact your local sleep clinic for a possible sleep study.  Sleep is crucial to our well-being, and sometimes professional help may be needed.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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