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The 10+ Worst Foods for Insomnia

Do you have insomnia? Before you answer, you should know that insomnia doesn’t just mean trouble falling asleep. It also includes poor sleep quality and waking up repeatedly during the night.


The end effect is the same: you feel exhausted, groggy and irritable the next day. If you’re having trouble sleeping, the first place you should look is common insomnia-causing foods.


1. Foods With Caffeine


Caffeine is literally an anti-sleep chemical — a stimulant. It cancels out the hormones desperately trying to help you get refreshing sleep.


Some people think caffeine doesn’t affect them. They fall asleep just fine. Unfortunately, falling asleep is only part of the battle.


Caffeine interrupts sleep, preventing you from getting the deep, refreshing rest your body needs. That’s why you feel so exhausted all the time.


Caffeine's effects last 5–12 hours! That means drinking coffee or energy drinks in the early afternoon can lead to insomnia. Stay away from anything caffeinated at least five hours before bed.


2. Alcohol


Hang on a second. Doesn’t a drink before bed help you fall asleep more quickly? Technically, yes, but it’s not the best for a good night’s sleep.


Alcohol helps you relax and makes you feel drowsy, but the effect doesn’t last. Afterward, you end up wide awake, and it takes forever to get back to sleep.


3. Water


Drinking plenty of water during the day is good, and so is making sure you’re hydrated at night. Otherwise, you can end up with leg cramps.


That said, waking up to use the bathroom every night isn’t healthy. If that’s happening, set an earlier cutoff for your last glass of water.


4. Foods That Cause Heartburn


Heartburn and acid reflux are one of the biggest causes of poor sleep. It’s tough to fall asleep and stay asleep when your esophagus feels like it’s on fire. Some of the worst offenders may surprise you:


  • Pizza

  • Spaghetti

  • Tomatoes

  • Spicy salsa

  • Peppermint

  • Oranges and other citrus fruits


Fried foods are even worse; they trigger heartburn and take forever to digest. They make your stomach feel uncomfortable and bloated all night.


5. Foods High in Sugar


Many American families have a nighttime custom of eating a bowl of ice cream around the TV. Relaxing as a family is great, but devouring tons of sugar before bedtime isn’t.

Avoid foods near bedtime that make your blood sugar spike:


  • Candy

  • Ice cream

  • Sugary cereal

  • Cake

  • Sweet rolls and donuts

  • Soda


Sugary foods mess with your sleep, making you toss and turn. The problem is that you’re giving your body fuel (sugar = energy) at a time when you should be winding down.


Is Snacking Before Bed Bad?


There’s nothing wrong with eating a snack before bed. In fact, it can help some people avoid waking up with their stomach growling. The key is to choose foods that have fiber or protein.


Eating a bowl of fruit — even sweeter fruits such as pineapple, mango, cherries or bananas — is OK because the fiber offsets the sugar. You can also get your cereal fix, but choose a healthier option instead of those neon-colored O’s loaded with sugar.


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