11 Foods You Should Never Eat At Night

Woman eating in front of the refrigerator in the kitchen late night


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Early morning cup

Late-Night Snacks Gone Wrong

We get it — indulging in a snack or two before bed is a satisfying and seemingly harmless habit. But if you often find yourself tossing and turning, unable to get good rest, it could be due to the foods you're eating before bedtime. 

What we eat plays an essential role in determining the quality of our sleep, and certain foods and beverages can disrupt our sleep cycle. Foods high in caffeine, sugars, and heavy or spicy ingredients can lead to discomfort, indigestion, or sleep disturbances. This can then lead to reduced REM sleep, restless nights, and waking up feeling less refreshed. 

Here are 11 foods to avoid eating at night. 

Hot Coffee from a French Press

1. Coffee and Caffeinated Drinks

Caffeine is a potent stimulant that increases adrenaline production and blocks the action of a natural brain chemical called adenosine, which helps our bodies promote restful sleep. Drinking coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages at night not only makes it harder to fall asleep, but it also affects the depth of sleep by causing frequent awakenings that disrupt REM and deep sleep. 

Chocolate truffles

2. Chocolate

Many people are unaware that certain desserts like chocolate and some ice creams may also contain caffeine. In addition to caffeine, chocolate has theobromine, a stimulant that can increase your heart rate. While some studies suggest that chocolate — particularly dark chocolate — can promote heart health and have other nutritional benefits, consuming it at night can have a similar effect to drinking a cup of coffee. 

Red chilli peppers

3. Spicy Foods

Since spicy foods stimulate the digestive system, they can also raise our bodies core temperatures. In order to fall and stay asleep, a cooler body temperature is typically needed. The capsaicin found in peppers can also cause heartburn — making it uncomfortable to lie down and relax before bedtime.

High angle view close-up of an assortment of colorful jellybeans, lollipops, candies and marshmallows.

4. Sugary Foods

Foods and snacks high in sugar can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar that provide a burst of energy that might keep you awake. After the sugar high subsides, a rapid drop occurs, which can wake you up in the middle of the night. Furthermore, refined sugars found in cereals and candy can disturb the natural balance of gut bacteria — leading to one feeling bloated, gassy, or uncomfortable.

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Assortment of hard strong alcoholic drinks and spirits

5. Alcohol

While alcoholic drinks might initially help us fall asleep faster thanks to their sedating effects, as our bodies metabolize the alcohol, it can cause disruptions in the sleep cycle. This can lead to more frequent awakenings and less time in the restorative REM and deep phases of sleep, which are crucial in helping our bodies repair muscle, bone, and tissue damage. 

Related: The One Thing You Should Do to Sleep Better

Grilled striploin steak

6. Red Meat

Due to its high protein and fat content, red meat requires our bodies to work harder to digest them. This prolonged digestive effort can prevent you from fully resting during the night. In addition, consuming large servings of red meat such as beef, lamb, or pork can lead to bloating and discomfort. Eating them too often can also increase the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular problems. 

Related10 Cheap, Healthy Alternatives to Red and Processed Meat

Tasty fried crispy bacon slices

7. Fried and Greasy Foods

Foods rich in unhealthy fats such as bacon and other deep-fried foods are hard on the stomach and can slow down the digestive process — potentially resulting in heartburn or indigestion. Processed and cured meats like hot dogs and corned beef typically also have a high sodium content that can make you feel thirsty. As you drink more fluids, you'll likely also need to wake up more often throughout the night to use the bathroom. 

Related: Here's Why Getting a Good Night's Sleep Is Harder as You Get Older

cut red tomato close-up in a box
Serhii Khrystenko/istockphoto

8. Foods Containing Tyramine

Foods rich in tyramine such as tomatoes, pickled vegetables, tofu, and soy sauce can increase norepinephrine levels in the brain — leading to heightened brain activity and alertness. The natural acids found in tomatoes and eggplants can also contribute to acid reflux, especially when consumed in large quantities.

Black beans and rice dish.
WS Studio/istockphoto

9. Beans and Foods That Cause Gas

While beans are a nutritious and filling ingredient that can complement a variety of dishes, they also contain certain carbohydrates and fiber that our bodies can't fully digest. As gut bacteria try to break these down in your body's large intestine, they produce gases that can lead to bloating and discomfort. Other foods that can make you feel gassy include broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. 

Lots of soda bottles in various flavours all lined up

10. Soda and Sugary Drinks

Beyond their caffeine content, carbonated drinks such as soda and other sugary beverages like fruit juices, sports and energy drinks, are typically chock full of sugar and other processed ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and artificial additives. Carbonation can cause bloating, while the high sugar content can lead to a burst of unwelcome late-night energy.

Related: 16 Sleep Myths That Could Explain Why You're So Tired

Different types of sarah on a wooden background. Assortment of cheeses.

11. Cheese and High-Fat Dairy Products

High-fat dairy such as cheese, butter, and heavy cream can be hard for our bodies to digest and may trigger acid reflux — especially when lying down. Some aged cheeses also contain tyramine, a substance that can increase alertness.