16 Foods That Keep You Awake at Night
Not entirely surprising, but any drinks with caffeine are likely to have the opposite effect you are looking for at bedtime. Coffee will stimulate your mind and body, and increase neurological activity, all of which makes it extra challenging to calm down and relax when you hit the mattress. In fact, a study on how early risers reacted to caffeine found that “the more caffeine in their bodies, the more time they spent awake during the night after initially falling asleep.” So, while coffee can energize you and be a great wake-up in the morning, try avoiding that cup of Joe at night.
2. Green Tea
Similarly, green tea is packed with caffeine and can keep you from achieving a good night of sleep, leaving you tossing and turning instead. Green tea might not be as high in caffeine content as black coffee — a cup of brewed coffee may have anywhere from 95-165 mg of caffeine, and green tea has 25-29 mg — but it’s still enough of the powerful stimulant to keep you up, or wake you up at night.
When you’re trying to sleep well, sugar is a no-no. And we already established that caffeine is a bad idea. So put them together in the deliciously decadent treat we call chocolate, and you have a recipe for insomnia.
Drinking alcohol of any kind may initially help you doze off (or pass out), but ultimately you won’t sleep well, and may wake up throughout the night. The American Heart Association recommends one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women to consume alcohol safely and responsibly, and to ensure you don’t harm your sleep habits or your overall health.
5. Water (or any Fluids)
Yes, drinking water is really good for you and is really important. But if you drink too many fluids before bedtime, the chances that you’ll wake up in the middle of the night to pee are pretty high. Try to cut yourself off from fluids in the hours leading up to slumber so your rest isn’t interrupted by a bathroom break.
6. Aged Cheese
Cheese lovers listen up: eating cheese in excess, especially in the evening, can harm the quality of your sleep. That is because cheese, specifically aged cheese, contains tyramine, which is an amino acid that acts as a stimulant and makes us feel more alert.
7. Fried Foods
Greasy, fattening, heavy, fried foods often give you an upset stomach, especially when you eat too much of them or eat them too close to bedtime. That’s because your stomach is working overtime to digest those foods, so try to save your mozzarella sticks and fried chicken wings for lunch (or better yet, just skip them altogether).
8. Tomato Sauce
The acidity in tomatoes (and tomato sauce) could cause reflux in the hours that follow your meal, so while dinner may taste delicious, you’ll be waking up with major heartburn and indigestion all night.
9. Cured Meats
Foods that look beautiful on a cured meat platter (salami, pepperoni, sausage, prosciutto etc.) may feel like a tasty treat when you consume them, but you might find they actually haunt you as you try to fall asleep. That’s because these foods contain a lot of tyrosine, an amino acid that stimulates the brain, making it harder to calm down, relax, rest and sleep.
10. Ice Cream
Cream, sugar and fat…it’s no wonder this sweet treat is a comfort food we love to indulge in, especially after dinner. But ice cream will keep you up thanks to the sugar rush and the difficulty most people have when it comes to digesting dairy. It’s nice to indulge sometimes, but do it earlier in the day; a stomachache at 3am does not seem worth it.
11. Chili Peppers
Spicy foods can trigger indigestion and reflux, which can keep you up at night thanks to the chemical capsaicin, which is what gives those foods their heat. Opt for milder flavors 3 hours before bedtime.
12. Citrus Fruits
Acidic fruits such as orange and grapefruit can be refreshing and healthy during the day (they’re loaded with vitamin C, fiber and potassium), but at night they could irritate your digestive system and leave you with heartburn, especially when you are lying down. Avoid citrus at night and save these fruits for your morning routine.
13. Raw Vegetables
“Eat your veggies!” You probably say this to your kids 10 times a day. And you’re not wrong; vegetables are really healthy and a great source of nutrients and minerals you need throughout your day. But eating too many raw veggies at night can result in gas as your body works to digest those foods into the evening hours. Cruciferous vegetables specifically (think kale, cabbage, and broccoli) can be especially hard to digest and leave you awake, bloated and gassy when you’re supposed to be comfortable and sleeping.
14. Red Meat
Red meat often takes longer to digest than other foods, which means that if you eat this food at night, your body will be digesting it long after you close your eyes. Late night protein is not a bad thing; just choose a leaner source such as yogurt, turkey, chicken or fish.
There’s a reason you are told to eat healthy, whole grain, raw oats as a part of your breakfast or pre-workout routine — oats are loaded with healthy cars and soluble fiber which fuel you and energize you for the day. But eating too many oats (or oat products) at night can slow down your digestion and wake you up mid-slumber.
Pizza combines so many foods we love: grains, tomato sauce, cheese…oh wait, all three of those things are on this not-before-bedtime list. Ugh. Guess the late-night pizza snack is probably not a great idea if you want to sleep, and sleep well. Just say no to the slice.