The worst foods for sleep

If you have tried every sleep remedy under the sun and still can’t seem to doze off, it may be because you are eating the wrong foods before bedtime. Today we take a look at which foods to avoid before bed time.

Top tips for eating before sleep

  • If you feel hungry do eat something before your body starts to wind down. Going to bed on an empty stomach drops blood sugar levels and interferes with your body's ability to sleep optimally.
  • Avoid eating late at night where possible, your body will be converting food into energy. Make sure you have your bedtime snack no later than 30 minutes before you turn in. If you have reflux, it’s a good idea to avoid eating anything for at least 3 hours before lying down in bed.
  • Pay attention to portion control, as large portions can disrupt digestion. Try to eat smaller portions later in the evening.
  • Avoid stimulants that will keep you up at night such as sugars or caffeine.

The Worst Foods For Sleep

1. Spicy food, such as curries

Although adding some zing to your favourite dishes makes for an amazing meal, spicy foods, such as curries can cause indigestion, heartburn and discomfort. Research also suggests that capsaicin, a compound found in spicy foods, may increase body temperature which may interfere with your sleep.

Eat all the spices and curry you want around lunchtime, buy try to go easy on the spices later in the day.

chocolate in bed

2. Chocolate and Caffeine

We are so sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but chocolate treats after dinner isn't doing your sleep any favours. Chocolate is a hidden source of caffeine. That means having a few spoons of your favourite ice cream or chocolate desert may be the very thing keeping you up. The caffeine in chocolate, and caffeinated beverages causes increased arousal, and decreases the ability to develop and sustain the deeper stages of sleep. Caffeine stays in your system for a long time and you can still be feeling the effects even ten hours later.

wine in bed

3. Alcohol

Although a glass in the evening may help you find some relaxation, drinking alcohol can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle, and can prevent you from entering the deeper stages of sleep. Alcohol in general relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which normally works to keep the acid down in the stomach thus causing heartburn. 

Drinking alcohol before bed can make you more likely to wake up throughout the night and diminishes the quality of sleep. Studies show alcohol can disrupt rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the restorative phase of the sleep cycle that is essential to keeping energy levels elevated throughout the day. 

In addition alcohol can aggravate sleep apnea and noisy snoring since it is a potent muscle relaxer. These effects get worse the more you drink, so keep alcohol intake to a minimum before bedtime. We recommend drinking some water before bedtime however drinking too much may increase the amount of times you need to urinate at night.

fatty foods

4. Fatty Foods

High-fat foods take longer to digest, and often cause bloating and indigestion. and are more likely to cause heartburn which makes it more difficult to get to sleep. Milk, yogurt, avocado, nuts, ice cream, and butter are all bad news. Fatty foods high in protein, like steak, digest slowly and may disturb our circadian rhythm.


5. Crisps & Salty Snacks

Too much salt is bad for your heart and your sleep. Eating a meal that’s high in sodium at dinnertime can contribute to sleep disturbances, in part due to an increase in blood pressure and fluid retention. The result may be restless sleep, frequent awakenings and not feeling fully rested in the morning. With too much salt in your bloodstream you may not sleep well that night, and feel tired or groggy the next day.

You might think to counter this by chugging a bunch of water to stay hydrated, but as a result the quality of your sleep might plummet from the uptick in late-night bathroom visits.

The optimal daily amount of sodium is 1500mg. To put this into context one slice of cheese pizza can contain about 500-600 mg of sodium. As you can see it's quite easy to consume too much. Try switching your evening snack to a less salty option.


6. Cheese

Have you ever heard someone say that they have strange dreams after eating lots of cheese? Aged or stronger cheeses, as well as preserved meats such as salami contain high levels of tyramine which is a amino acid which makes us feel alert. Although cheese is considered a comfort food, it's actually one of the worst foods to eat just before bed.

Your adrenal glands generally respond to tyramine by sending catecholamines — fight-or-flight chemicals that act both as hormones and neurotransmitters — into the bloodstream. These messenger chemicals include: dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. This gives you a boost of energy and, in turn, elevates your blood pressure and heart rate making it more difficult to get to sleep.

tired and awake


That's probably enough of being told what we can't eat. Let's agree that having a good night's sleep is incredibly important so whatever we choose to eat, let us be mindful of its impact

In our next blog we take a look at which foods assist in helping you get a good night's sleep.

If you would like some further tips on getting a better nights sleep then be sure to check out some of the other insightful articles on our blog. Alternatively please do browse our website shop where we offer our beautiful range of luxury sleep accessories.

September 16, 2021 — Dan Holman

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