Want More ZZZs? Here’s What Not to Eat Before Bed

written by / August 7, 2019
What Not to Eat Before Bed - Featured

Mood swings, concentration problems, an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure—these are just some of the effects of sleep deprivation. Conversely, a good night’s rest can bring us numerous benefits. Among other things, it can boost our immune system, improve our memory, and help us relieve stress. No wonder more and more people are looking for ways to improve their slumber.

While there’s a pile of factors that affect our sleep quality, from bedroom temperature to our physical activity, we’ll focus on our evening meal. So here’s a list of what not to eat before bed.

Candy Bars

A study published in The Journal of the Mind and Body suggested that candy bars and other junk food can trigger more brain waves. As a result, seven out of ten study participants experienced nightmares. So if you want a restful night, resist your cravings for sugary foods.

Additionally, the study found out that going to bed on a full stomach can have similar effects. This doesn’t mean that going to bed hungry is good either. Just don’t eat too close to your bedtime.


You might think that there’s nothing wrong with eating vegetables before bed, but we’ll have to say that’s not true. Even though it’s a well-known fact that broccoli is great for your health thanks to its high content of vitamins and minerals, this veggie isn’t the best choice for dinner.

Since it’s a great source of fiber, it is hard to digest, which can interfere with your slumber. And this isn’t true only for broccoli before bed, but for all cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage.

Raw Onions

Onions, especially raw onions, are another type of veggie that you should avoid eating before bed because they can cause heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. Additionally, they may trigger belching, which can make acid reflux symptoms even worse. Therefore, it’s best if you avoid eating them before bedtime.

However, you should also know that they are amazingly healthy. For example, they can reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. So don’t give up on them completely. You can have them in your salad at lunchtime.


Sure, you don’t need bad breath when you’re sharing a bed with your partner, but that’s not the only reason you should skip garlic in the evening. In fact, it’s one of the foods that may keep you awake since it can upset your stomach. If you tend to have problems with heartburn, you should definitely avoid any foods that contain garlic before going to sleep because it can trigger acid reflux and heartburn symptoms.


Before hitting the hay, it’s best to avoid diuretic foods, such as celery. While natural diuretics are great for helping your body get rid of excess water, they can keep you up during the night. That’s why they are some of the worst foods to eat in the evening.

Since you don’t want to disrupt your sleep by constantly waking up to pee, avoid this nutritious vegetable before bed. Besides celery, you should also skip watermelon, asparagus, and cucumbers. Keep this in mind even if you’re following a vegetarian bodybuilding diet.

Dried Fruit

Eating dried fruit before bedtime isn’t a good idea for several reasons. First, this great snack food has a high sugar content, which will prevent you from having a restful night. Sugary foods can decrease the amount of time you spend in deep sleep, so you will probably wake up tired in the morning even if you’ve slept for eight hours.

Another reason raisins and other dried fruits belong to foods to avoid before bed is because they are rich in fiber, which may lead to having gas and cramps. Consequently, you can have a terrible night without much sleep.

Red Meat

Red meat is highly nutritious since it’s rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, it should definitely be part of a healthy diet. However, eating protein before bed is not the best idea, so avoid eating steak, being rare or well-done, before going to sleep because it takes a lot of time to digest red meat.

During nighttime slumber, all your body systems should have an opportunity to have some rest. And eating meat before bed won’t allow you to have quality sleep you need to feel refreshed in the morning.

Spicy Foods

A study published in the International Journal of Psychology revealed that adding Tabasco sauce and mustard to your dinner can disturb your sleep. Six young, healthy men who participated in this study needed more time to fall asleep and experienced less deep sleep. So if you don’t want to ruin your chance of getting some shut-eye, avoid Indian curry before bedtime. Although spices can make our food delicious, it’s best to steer clear of spicy food before bed.


What Not to Eat Before Bed - Pizza

Who hasn’t munched on a slice of pizza before hitting the hay? But is this really a good bedtime snack? Unfortunately, we’ll have to say no; on the contrary, it’s one of the worst foods to eat before bed. That delicious tomato sauce and melted cheese that make pizza so irresistible are precisely the reasons you’ll toss and turn all night.

Fatty and greasy toppings, such as cheese, can give your stomach a hard time, while tomato sauce may cause heartburn due to a high level of acidity. Therefore, you’ll have to forget about pizza before bed.

Fried Food

French fries, cheese sticks, chicken strips, onion rings, and other fried foods are a big no-no in the evening. These fried dishes are not good for your health no matter the time of day, but when consumed before bedtime, they also disrupt your sleep. Since it takes a lot of time to digest greasy foods, they don’t allow your body to completely relax during the nighttime rest. So it’s no wonder you can find them on almost any list of what not to eat before bed

Cured Meat

Both cured meat and cured cheese are typically very salty, so it’s best to refrain from eating charcuterie close to bedtime. Otherwise, you’ll end up waking up all night because of thirst. Additionally, this type of food contains tyramine, an amino acid that boosts brain activity and delays sleep.

Dark Chocolate

I’m afraid we have another piece of bad news. Dark chocolate has made its way to the list of the forbidden bedtime snacks. Since it contains caffeine, it can negatively interfere with your nighttime rest. You may have trouble falling and staying asleep.

Just so you can get a better picture, let’s compare the caffeine content of dark chocolate and coffee. One ounce of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa contains about 25 mg of caffeine, while an 8-ounce cup of coffee provides about 95 mg of caffeine. Therefore, it’s clear that dark chocolate is one of the foods to avoid before going to sleep.


Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate! You’ve probably heard this advice hundreds of times since water brings a range of health benefits, from boosting our energy levels to improving our complexion.

However, water made its way onto our list of foods that cause insomnia because drinking too much water before bedtime can harm your sleep. How? Well, the explanation is pretty simple. If you gulp down a few glasses of water close to bedtime, you’ll probably wake up several times during the night to go to the bathroom. That’s why it’s recommended to hydrate enough during the day and reduce your water intake in the evening hours.


For sure, this one is not a surprise—you shouldn’t drink coffee before bed. Probably there’s no one who would sip on coffee when it’s time for catching some ZZZs. However, did you know that caffeine effects can last for several hours? So if you decide to consume this tasty beverage after 3 pm, you may not be able to enter deep sleep stages during your nighttime rest.

Interestingly though, while it’s pretty clear why we included it on our list of drinks and foods to avoid at night, we should also note that some experts recommend drinking coffee before short naps. This is because if you only want to have a quick shut-eye, you’ll have just enough time to rest before the well-known effects of caffeine kick in.


Besides being pretty unhealthy, soda drinks, like Pepsi and Coke, are terrible for your slumber. They are high in caffeine, which will keep you awake. For example, a can of cola provides about 29 mg of caffeine. Additionally, these sugary drinks contain citrus and sodium benzoate, which may bother your tummy and cause acid reflux. So in addition to a number of foods to avoid before bed, you have to be careful about what you drink as well.

Orange Juice

One of the reasons you shouldn’t have a glass of orange juice before bed is that it’s very acidic. And as you probably know by now, foods and drinks with high levels of acidity aren’t a good choice if you need a good night’s sleep because they might provoke heartburn and acid reflux. If you have a sensitive stomach, it’s important that you know what not to eat before bed.

In addition, orange juice can be high in sugar, which may cause you problems with dozing off and negatively affect your sleep quality. Instead, you can try one of the tasty smoothies that are made of foods that help you sleep.


What Not to Eat Before Bed - Wine

While you might think that a glass of wine or beer will help you fall asleep, alcohol can be one of the causes of insomnia. It’s true that a nightcap can make you feel relaxed and sleepy, but alcoholic drinks can adversely affect your sleep quality, similarly to other foods that prevent sleep. Namely, alcohol is known to reduce the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, so it’s stealing you of your restorative stage of sleep. As a result, you’ll wake up tired and might feel sleepy during the day.


What should you not eat before bed?

Before going to sleep, you should avoid having any large meals, especially those containing fatty foods or foods high in protein. Of course, stay away from coffee and other caffeinated beverages, which will keep you alert. Also, it’s recommended to avoid eating celery, broccoli, and other vegetables that are natural diuretics.

Is it OK to go to bed hungry?

It’s no big deal if it happens once or twice, but regularly going to bed hungry can have negative effects on your body. Among other things, you may lose muscle mass, have less energy, and get fewer ZZZs. So if you feel hungry before hitting the hay, choose one of the healthy bedtime snacks, such as pistachios or a hard-boiled egg.

Can I eat Kellogg’s at night?

If you get hungry before hitting the sheets, you can eat cereals with some non-fat Greek yogurt. However, always choose ones that aren’t high in sugar. If you try to satisfy your hunger with sugary cereals, you’ll probably wake up starving a few hours later. This way, you’ll mess up with both your blood sugar and your sleep.

Can I eat bananas at night?

Yes, bananas are among the foods proven to help you sleep. They are a good source of magnesium and potassium, which help your muscles relax. Additionally, this type of fruit contains tryptophan, an amino acid that plays an important role in the production of serotonin and melatonin. Both the hormones are responsible for the regulation of our sleep.

How do I stop eating late at night?

There are a number of useful tips that can help you get rid of this unhealthy habit. If you don’t suffer from any eating disorders, you should just change some of your daily routines. Start from planning your meals—never skip breakfast and follow a balanced diet. This way, you won’t feel the need to eat late at night. It’s also a good idea not to keep any junk food at home. You know the saying—out of sight, out of mind. Or out of stomack, in this case!

Bottom Line

After this list of foods that keep you awake at night, it’s only logical to ask: Is it bad to eat before bed? While strictly speaking, eating right before going to bed will bring you more harm than good, there’s no reason to skip dinner as long as you finish it a couple of hours before hitting the sheets. However, it’s crucial to know what not to eat before bed. Fortunately, there is a range of good options for your evening meal—just pick wisely.

Before I started working as a sleep expert, I always envied people who were passionate about their jobs. Now I finally have an opportunity to do something I truly enjoy, and no, I can’t sleep at work! For me, it’s definitely as good as it gets—as I spend a considerable amount of time lying down on various mattresses, testing sleeping products, and reviewing them to help guide you to your ideal sleeping situation. Plus, I work tightly with other sleep experts and doctors to provide you with valuable information and helpful advice about sleep.

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