24th Aug 2017

Foods that will make or break a good night’s sleep

chocolate cookies
Amelia Theodorakis

When sitting down to a meal, have you ever wondered what effect your food will have on your sleep? Evidence suggests that certain kinds of foods and when you eat them can significantly influence how well you sleep.

The Sleep Health Foundation suggests that, as a rule, a healthy, balanced diet will boost your wellbeing and provide you with the right amount of energy to get through the day – and to bedtime. You should aim to allow two to three hours between having your last meal and skipping off to bed, but you should try not to go to sleep hungry either.

Particular foods can go a long way in either making or breaking a good night’s sleep. Generally, your body will struggle to process foods that are rich or heavy, highly acidic or that contain caffeine. Your digestive system is designed to slow down by around 50 per cent when you’re asleep, so eating foods that provide your body with energy will be counterproductive to the natural process.

Foods best not consumed close to bedtime include:

  • protein-rich foods such as chicken and eggs
  • sugar-laden foods such as boxed cereal or fruit yogurt
  • takeaway-style foods such as cheeseburgers
  • heavily spiced foods such as Indian curries
  • dark chocolate
  • chilli
  • all alcohol, particularly wine
  • coffee and black tea.


According to the Sleep Health Foundation, going to bed on an empty stomach can also affect your quality of sleep. A rumbly tummy can keep you awake at night, but light snack foods containing sleep-promoting magnesium, tryptophan or melatonin may help to have you nodding off sooner.

Related articles:
What healthy people do before bed
Are you not getting enough sleep?

Good snack foods before bedtime include:

  • plain popcorn
  • almonds
  • bananas
  • cheese and crackers
  • plain yoghurt
  • cherries
  • walnuts
  • hummus
  • peanut butter
  • fish
  • sweet potato
  • spinach
  • valerian tea
  • milk.


What foods do you try to avoid before bedtime? Are there any that you’ve found help you have a better night’s sleep?


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31st Aug 2017
My cut off time for food and any drink other than water is 7pm and It has made a difference to the quality of my sleep.
31st Aug 2017
Who eats fish, sweet potato and spinach as a snack before bed? Dinner? Yes! But a snack?????
31st Aug 2017
I usually have a banana and a glass of milk if I can't sleep. I think though if I were to have a couple of wines, I'd be asleep quickly and soundly.
3rd Sep 2017
A lot of processed foods certainly not good to have for many hours before bedtime as the added food chemicals are neurotoxins which affect your sleep patterns.
Monosodium Glutamate or MSG or 621 is one such flavour enhancer that is often found in crispy packs of chips, savoury biscuits, packaged soups and sometimes in Chinese foods will keep me awake all night and nothing will make me sleep!
Also produces rapid heart beats and raises the body temperature as well as making one very thirsty.
It has also been known to cause respiratory failures in asthmatics and they die.
Dry white wine has a lot of preservatives which give similar effects but sweeter wines do not as sugar is a natural preservative.

Tags: sleep, food, health

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