Having trouble falling asleep? - ​Foods that keep you awake

Feb 14 2022

Having trouble falling asleep? - ​Foods that keep you awake

What you eat before you go to bed could be sabotaging your slumber. Here we take a look at some of the worst offenders.

Caffeine

There’s a reason why we turn to caffeine when we need an energy boost or to stay awake, and so unsurprisingly, caffeinated foods and drinks are at the top of the list of foods and drinks to avoid before bedtime. Caffeine is a recognised stimulant – it increases feeling of alertness and helps you to feel energised. Depending on how sensitive to caffeine you are, will determine how many hours before bedtime you need to avoid it. One study found that 400mg of caffeine as many as 6 hours before bedtime can more than double the time it takes to fall asleep, and reduce sleep time by 1 hour compared to placebo [1].

In addition to coffee, foods and drinks that contain caffeine include chocolate, green and black tea, cola, yerba mate and foods that contain coffee (coffee cake, Tiramisu). If you’re having trouble sleeping, try to keep these foods to a minimum later in the day, and if very sensitive to caffeine, stop drinking coffee and tea after 3pm.

Sugar

Sugary foods including sweets, biscuits and pastries, have been linked to sleep disorders, reduced sleep time and insomnia. These high GI foods cause significant spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, which triggers your body to release hormones, like adrenaline, insulin and cortisol, that may cause you to wake up later in the night [2].

Fats

Fatty foods are also detrimental to a good night’s sleep. A heavy, fatty meal may make you feel lethargic immediately afterwards, but fatty foods are notoriously difficult to digest. Digestion slows when we sleep, which can lead to a hefty dose of indigestion later on if you’ve not left yourself enough time to digest your meal.

Are good fats any better? Not necessarily! Foods rich in healthy fats – nuts, seeds and avocado for example, are great for keeping your mind sharp. Whilst it might be tempting to reach for a handful of nuts before bedtime, the omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants they contain, all work hard to improve brain power. Great for when you need to be on top form during the day, but not so good if you’re left doing long division with those sheep at night.

Alcohol

Nightcap anyone? Alcohol is one of the most popular sleep solutions in the world. But whilst it may help you to wind down and fall asleep faster, it disrupts sleep considerably once blood alcohol levels start to fall again. One study on nearly 12,000 people found a significant correlation between higher alcohol consumption, poorer sleep and shorter sleep duration [3].

Added to that, if you drink too much alcohol, and not enough water, dehydration and headaches will also make for an uncomfortable, restless night.

Need a hand nodding off? Try Yogi Tea® Bedtime Rooibos Vanilla Tea just before bedtime. This enchanting blend of sweet creamy rooibos, gentle chamomile and mellow lemon balm tastes delicious and is naturally caffeine free.

Fresh Valerian can also help you get to sleep and stay in the deeper stages of sleep for longer. Take 30 drops in a little water half an hour before bedtime.


[1] Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed (nih.gov)

[2] High glycemic index and glycemic load diets as risk factors for insomnia: analyses from the Women's Health Initiative (nih.gov)

[3] Alcohol consumption and sleep quality: a community-based study - PubMed (nih.gov)