When It Comes To Food And Sleep, You Are What You Eat.

wide image of stalking chocolate bar

Food plays a big impact on your sleep. Both when you eat and what you eat are important factors that will affect how deep your sleep is or if you even fall asleep at all. Below are some tips to help you avoid sleep-destroying pitfalls when choosing your food.

Foods That Ruin Sleep

creepy cartoon chocolate bar

High Fat Food And Big Portions

It may seem that dessert and evening time go hand in hand. Often, many enjoy high fat snacks like eating ice cream while they wind down. But this can cause problems when you lie down to go to sleep. One major problem is that fat takes a long time to digest. This means that when you lie down to go to sleep, your brain may want to settle down but your digestive system is still working at full force. At the very least your churning stomach can interrupt a deep sleep, but other problems such as acid reflux can also be made worse by a late night, high-fat snack.


It may just seem like common sense that drinking coffee before bed would interrupt sleep because when we think coffee we think caffeine. But there are other foods that contain caffeine and one common one eaten before bedtime is chocolate. Watch out! One bar of dark chocolate (162 g) has about 70 mg of caffeine in it. Gram for gram, that is a little MORE than coffee. For reference, one 8 oz cup of coffee only has about 95 mg of caffeine in it. If you are going to eat that bar of chocolate, you may as well kiss your good night of sleep goodbye.

Gassy Food

Broccoli, cauliflower, beans, cabbage… these foods may make you think, ‘healthy.’ But they have something else in common, too. They make you gassy. And that is not good for you or those you sleep with at night. It is often not the gas itself that causes the worst sleep interruption but the crippling gas pains that come along with it.


Many people think that alcohol will cause them to doze off quicker and this is usually true. But what may not be as commonly known is that alcohol causes lighter sleep at night. Alcohol also causes you to wake up more frequently during the night.

Spicy Food

Spicy foods have a whole range of effects that can ruin your sleep at night including causing heartburn, gas, and stomach cramps. The capsaicin naturally found in chili peppers is, by definition, an irritant and therefore can interrupt your sleep.

Foods That Help Sleep

cherry illustration

Light, High Carbohydrate Snack

Eating carbohydrates causes the production of tryptophanTryptophan produces the neurotransmitter called serotoninSerotonin, among other things, gives a feeling of well being and happiness and when we are happy we sleep better. Of course, a late night snack of carb rich foods should be kept to very small portions because anything eaten in large portions will cause the digestive system to have to work overtime instead of letting us sleep.

Cherry Juice

Why cherry juice? Natural, tart cherry juice contains the hormone melatonin which regulates the body’s sleep cycles. Some other foods that naturally contain melatonin are:

  • Tomato
  • Almonds
  • Banana
  • Rasberries
  • Oats
  • Sweet corn
  • Rice
  • Pineapple
  • Oranges
  • Barley

About Northstate Sleep Therapy

Northstate Sleep Therapy is located in the downtown Chico area and is a practice dedicated to helping you find solutions to your sleep disorders.