Which Foods Hinder Your Ability to Sleep?

beer pour in a glass

You likely know that caffeine hinders your rest at night, but are you accidentally eating other foods that are adding to your insomnia? We list the most common culprits, as well as a few new offenders you’ve likely never considered.

Is Caffeine Hiding in Your Foods?

If you find caffeine is keeping you from being able to sleep at night, you might be surprised to learn where it’s coming from. The National Sleep Foundation states that more than sixty plants naturally contain caffeine, including tea and cocoa.

Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the body to produce adrenaline, which makes us feel more awake. Caffeine also blocks the chemicals that induce sleep in our brains. Here are a few places it might be hiding in your diet:

  • Medication (check your medication’s ingredient list to verify)
  • Tea (black and green teas both contain caffeine)
  • Soda
  • Chocolate 

In addition to hidden caffeine, you might also simply be consuming caffeine too late in the day. It will take approximately six hours for half of the caffeine in your system to be eliminated. If you are extremely sensitive to caffeine, you might need to nix your afternoon cup of joe.


You might think of smoking as something you do to relax, but nicotine is stimulant, much like caffeine. A 2009 review of existing nicotine and sleep studies found that smokers tended to have insomnia-like sleep problems, like interrupted and more shallow sleep. 


Like nicotine, lots of use alcohol to wind down in the evenings. Unfortunately, when you’re trying to uncover which foods hinder your ability to sleep, it’s imperative that you look at your alcohol consumption.

While alcohol might help you fall asleep faster, you’ll pay for it in the second half of the night when the alcohol you consumed disrupts your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the deeply restorative part of the night for your brain and body.


Tyrosine is an amino acid found in most animal proteins, such as cheese, chicken, and even fish. It stimulates the body to produce, among other things, adrenaline, which can interfere with your sleep at night. If you’re experiencing sleep issues, avoid protein-rich meals several hours before bed.

Learning which foods hinder your ability to sleep is important if you’re facing sleep issues and want to learn how to sleep better. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and protein before bed, and you’ll be on your way to a better night’s sleep in no time!


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