Screen Your Hearing By Telephone. Free for AARP Members for a limited time. Learn More

12 Foods That Sabotage Sleep

  • 12 Foods That Sabotage Sleep

    Sleep Better

    En español l The foods you eat for dinner or shortly before bed can prevent you from getting some much-needed zzz's. Here's what to shun for up to several hours before turning in if you want to sleep better and wake rested — from tomatoes and chocolate to cheddar cheese. — Istock

    1 of 15
  • Celery


    Steer clear of celery just before bed. Celery and other foods with a high water content (cucumbers, watermelon, radishes and such) are natural diuretics that may cause you to wake in the middle of the night with a full bladder.

    Countdown to bedtime: 90 minutes — Istock

    2 of 15
  • Tomatoes


    Tomatoes are rich in tyramine, an amino acid that triggers the brain to release norepinephrine, a stimulant that boosts brain activity and delays sleep. Other tyramine-rich foods include eggplant, soy sauce, red wine and aged cheeses, such as brie and Stilton.

    Countdown to bedtime: Not after dinner — Istock

    3 of 15
  • Healthy Living Tips and News

    AARP Offer: Healthy Living Tips and News

    Live life to the fullest with tips, tools and news on healthy living.

    Join AARP
    today and save on health and wellness products and services — Istockphoto

    4 of 15
  • Cheese Pizza

    Cheese Pizza

    Foods high in fat and fried foods take longer to digest and can cause discomfort that interferes with sleep. They can also reduce the effectiveness of some medications taken at night, says Alon Avidan, a neurologist and director of UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine Sleep Disorders Center.

    Countdown to bedtime: 3 hours — Istock

    5 of 15
  • Alcoholic drinks


    Although a nightcap or a glass of wine before bed may help you doze off quicker, it disrupts sleep later in the night and robs you of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Lack of REM sleep harms concentration, memory and motor skills.

    Countdown to bedtime: 2 to 4 hours — Istock

    6 of 15
  • Black-Bean Chili

    Black-bean chili

    This dish could be a disaster if you eat it close to bedtime. The body has a hard time digesting beans, so stomach-rumbling gas pains will keep you from a good night's sleep, says Helen Rasmussen, a research nutritionist at Tufts University.

    Countdown to bedtime: Have it for lunch — Istock

    7 of 15
  • Chocolate candy

    Dark chocolate

    A small piece of dark chocolate each day helps keep your heart healthy — but don't nibble it right before you go to bed. Dark chocolate (though not white chocolate), hot cocoa and tea all contain caffeine, and if you're caffeine-sensitive, you may find yourself staring at the ceiling instead of snoozing.
    Countdown to bedtime: 4 to 6 hours
    — Istock

    8 of 15
  • Colorful Gum Drops Candy


    A handful of gumdrops (or any candy) may cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then fall rapidly as the body releases insulin to bring them under control. You may fall asleep easily, but these fluctuations make it difficult to stay asleep.

    Countdown to bedtime: 2 to 3 hours — Istock

    9 of 15
  • Tacos


    A taco liberally sprinkled with hot sauce may set your taste buds tingling, but eating it within a few hours of lights-out can set you up for a bad case of heartburn and a restless night. Ditto for other spicy foods.

    Countdown to bedtime: 3 hours — Istock

    10 of 15
  • Cooked Steak on a plate


    Save the leftover slice of steak for lunch tomorrow. Foods high in protein and marbled fats, such as steak and roast beef, are slow to digest. If your body is busy digesting food, there's more of a chance that you'll have a restless night.

    Countdown to bedtime: 3 hours — Istock

    11 of 15
  • Carbonated soft drinks

    Carbonated soft drinks

    Caffeine, that sneak thief of sleep, can turn up in unexpected places, including root beer and lemon-lime soda. Added to a food or beverage, caffeine must be listed as an ingredient; if it occurs naturally (coffee, tea, chocolate), it doesn't. Check the label.

    Countdown to bedtime: 4 hours — Istock

    12 of 15
  • A large sandwich

    Dagwood sandwich

    A heavy meal just before bed can rob you of the shut-eye you need. Allow at least three hours post-meal before you turn in so your body has a chance to digest the food and you don't feel too uncomfortable to sleep.

    Countdown to bedtime: 3 to 4 hours — Istock

    13 of 15
  • Broccoli


    Broccoli is a nutrition powerhouse, but its slow-to-digest fiber will keep your body working hard into the night. Broccoli and its relatives cauliflower and brussels sprouts also contain an indigestible sugar that will produce large amounts of gas.

    Countdown to bedtime: Have it for lunch instead — Istock

    14 of 15
  • Health endslide
    15 of 15

Food to Avoid Before Bed: We all love food and sleep, but they don't go hand in hand. Here are the worst foods to eat right before you sleep!

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.

AARP Membership

Discounts & Benefits

    Next Article

    Read This