Recipes and Cooking Healthy Recipes Healthy Eating 4 Foods That Hinder Sleep (and 3 That May Help You Sleep) What you eat may lead to a restless night, or even keep you awake. Learn which foods to avoid near bedtime if you want a good night's sleep. By Brierley Horton, MS, RD Brierley Horton, MS, RD Instagram Website Brierley Horton is a registered dietitian nutritionist and experienced independent writer and editor with 15 years experience. She previously served as Food & Nutrition Director for Cooking Light magazine and was the Nutrition Editor at EatingWell magazine for nearly a decade. Learn about BHG's Editorial Process Updated on June 16, 2022 Fact checked by Marcus Reeves Fact checked by Marcus Reeves Marcus Reeves is an experienced writer, publisher, and fact-checker. He began his writing career reporting for The Source magazine. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, The Washington Post, and Rolling Stone, among other publications. His book Somebody Scream: Rap Music's Rise to Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power was nominated for a Zora Neale Hurston Award. He is an adjunct instructor at New York University, where he teaches writing and communications. Marcus received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Learn about BHG's Fact Checking Process Share Tweet Pin Email Here's a not-so-surprising statistic: More than three in 10 Americans gets less than seven hours of sleep each night. That means many of us are falling short of the National Sleep Foundation's recommendation to get between seven and nine hours of shuteye a night. It's not just about how long you're under the covers either—the quality of your sleep matters, too. BHG / Alison Czinkota 4 Foods Bad for Sleep To help you get to sleep—and stay asleep—it's helpful to know which foods can help and which can hinder a night's rest. These foods prevent sleep, either by keeping you awake, or disturbing your slumber. 01 of 04 Low-Carbohydrate, High-Fat Diets Getty Images / ThitareeSarmkasat The popular ketogenic diet (and others similar to it) may help you lose weight, but could hinder your sleep. In studies in which people ate variations of low-carb, high-fat diets (some of which included participants going into ketosis), researchers found subjects' REM sleep (that's the kind of sleep critical for memory) was reduced and their middle-of-the-night wake-ups increased. Interestingly, though, their slow-wave sleep, which is the deep sleep that restores you, increased. Unlike other studies looking at diet and sleep, changing when you eat your low-carb, high-fat diet (for example, at least four hours before bedtime) doesn't seem to matter. However, the research is limited on the timing of this diet as related to sleep. 02 of 04 Caffeine Blaine Moats Many of us drink coffee throughout the day for its caffeine; it's a delicious stimulant. But that's the key word: stimulant. As you might expect, research shows consuming caffeine before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, plus overall sleep quality is reduced. Another interesting finding: older adults may be more sensitive to caffeine than younger ones. Per a review study, there isn't a universal cutoff before bedtime to stop drinking coffee. Some people experienced sleep disturbances if they drank coffee six hours before bed, others weren't impacted by drinking coffee three hours, or even one, before going to bed. Because caffeine is the sleep stealer, don't forget about less obvious sources of caffeine like chocolate, tea, and colas. 03 of 04 Alcohol Blaine Moats A glass of wine, beer, or a cocktail might help you fall asleep, but it hinders restful slumber. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it turns on the alpha activity in your brain, which is supposed to happen when you're quietly resting, not sleeping. Alcohol also throws off your circadian rhythms and blocks REM sleep. 04 of 04 Sugary Drinks Wittayayut/Getty Images When researchers (in a very small study) gave kids either milk with glucose (which is straight sugar) or milk with honey an hour before bed, the kids who drank the glucose-spiked milk woke up more during the night than their counterparts who drank honey milk. The milk with glucose is considered to be high glycemic index (GI), meaning it causes a quick spike (and then fall) in blood sugar and insulin. (Conversely, the honey milk is low GI, causing a slower rise and fall in blood sugar and insulin.) Other high glycemic index drinks are sodas, sports drinks, and rice milk. Although this study was quite small, other research has found an association between lower sleep quality and people who regularly drink sugar-sweetened beverages. There are other foods that some believe can impact your sleep, including spicy foods, which may cause heartburn, or natural diuretics like celery, parsley, tea, or alcohol, which lead to extra middle-of-the-night bathroom trips. There isn't a lot of research around these yet. Foods That Help You Sleep Fortunately, there are also foods that can encourage sleep. According to a review study in the journal Advances in Nutrition, these three foods show promise for helping you get a good night's rest. Tart cherries or tart cherry juice: a double dose of cherries each day (this could be an eight-ounce glass of tart cherry juice, like R.W. Knudsen Tart Cherry Juice ($6.98, Walmart), in the morning and at night or about a cup of fresh cherries after lunch and dinner) may help you get more sleep and boost your your levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep. Kiwifruit: eat two kiwifruits one hour before bed and the research suggests you'll sleep longer and have a less restless slumber. Milk: drinking a glass at night, up to 30 minutes before bed, may help you sleep more soundly. If a good night's sleep is a top priority (and, let's be real, we all need it), be mindful of the food and sleep connection. There's another reason restful sleep is key: people who don't get enough Zs are more likely to eat less healthy foods (such as fats and white, refined carbohydrates) than people who are well-rested. Cottage Cheese Before Bed Could Boost Metabolism All of this said, there's one caveat. How much a food disturbs your sleep varies from person to person, especially in younger adults. If you don't typically eat before bed, adding even one of these "good" foods to your routine might be more of a hinder than a help. If you do typically eat closer to bedtime, adding one to your pre-sleep routine is more likely to help. Consider doing a little research on yourself before you completely eliminate from or add one of these items into your evening routine. You need to find out what helps you rest best. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Better Homes & Gardens is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources—including peer-reviewed studies—to support the facts in our articles. Read about our editorial policies and standards to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. St-Onge, Marie-Pierre et al. "Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality." Advances in Nutrition. vol. 7. no. 5. pp. 938-949. 2016. Clark, Ian et al. "Coffee, Caffeine, and Sleep: A Systematic Review of Epidemiological Studies and Randomized Controlled Trials." Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2017. O’Callaghan, Frances et al. "Effects of Caffeine on Sleep Quality and Daytime Functioning." Risk Management and Healthcare Policy. pp. 1-9. 2018. Jalilolghadr, Shabnam et al. "Effect of Low and High Glycaemic Index Drink on Sleep Pattern in Children." The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association. pp. 533-536. 2011.