These 6 Foods Are the Reason You Can't Sleep, According to a Nutritionist

6 Foods That Cause Insomnia


Alicia Rountree

We pick the brains of models day in and day out, prying into their medicine cabinets and kitchen cupboards in an attempt to uncover their elusive model secrets. In these endeavors, we hear a lot about eating clean and avoiding sugar, but rarely do we hear diet tips from a model who also happens to have her degree in nutritional science. That's exactly what we found in Alicia Rountree. The Mauritian model (she's got the island hair and bronzed glow to prove it) is also a certified nutritionist and restaurateur (she has to be able to put her knowledge into practice, right?), and today she's sharing her secrets with us.

Are you having difficulty sleeping and don't know why? Sure, we all have times when stress is the culprit, and we find ourselves tossing and turning all night. But stress may not be the only reason you're still tossing and turning. It may sound surprising, but the foods you eat can have a huge impact on your ability to get a restful night's sleep and lead to a groggy morning. Take a look at the foods that cause insomnia below, and try avoiding them if you find yourself munching on them in the evening.

1. Fried Foods

Foods that cause insomnia: Fried Chicken


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Beware of these little pockets of grease! Your system will go into overdrive trying to break them down. Stay clear of high-fat culprits like French fries and chicken wings for dinner.

2. Coffee

Foods that cause insomnia: Coffee


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This rule is pretty simple: no coffee at least six hours before bedtime. Also, beware of hidden caffeine like the kind found in chocolate and soda. Yes, that little piece of dark chocolate you had to quench your sugar craving could be the root of your tossing and turning!

3. Alcohol

Foods that cause insomnia: Cocktails


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You may think a glass of wine will help you unwind, but it can actually disrupt your sleep cycle. You may fall asleep faster, but you’re likely to find yourself unable to stay asleep—and end up with a headache in the morning. Make sure you drink enough water to balance out the effects of alcohol.

4. Red Meat

Foods that cause insomnia: Steak


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High-protein, fatty animal meat is one of the toughest foods for our bodies to digest. If you happen to eat red meat in the evening, make a conscious effort to chew it properly to ease its digestibility.

5. Spicy Foods

Foods that cause insomnia: Spicy Peppers


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Spicy foods are another treat better left for the daytime. A spicy meal can cause indigestion and irritation of the upper digestive tract. This can cause pain and acid reflux, which can prevent you from getting a peaceful night of sleep.

6. Liquids



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Yes, that's why you wake up twice in the night to go to the bathroom. It's so important to have an uninterrupted full night's sleep. Try to stop consuming any liquids after 8 p.m. (just make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day).

Preparing for a Good Night's Sleep



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To help induce a peaceful night's rest, there are a few rules you should follow. First, try to cut out electronic use at least one hour before bed. (That includes cell phones!) Have your phone in another room, and buy a standard alarm clock so you don't need your phone to wake you up in the morning.

It's also helpful to have a calming ritual before bed. Light a candle and dim the lights. I love using a touch of lavender spray on my pillowcase to promote deep and peaceful sleep. I also love to read in bed. There's something about a good book that helps me drift off into dreamland. A warm shower or bubble bath is equally relaxing. As you're falling asleep, take some deep breaths to calm your mind and visualize yourself having a great night's sleep.

Here are some of my favorite tools to prep for bedtime.

Before you wash up, light a candle to set the mood for your wind-down. Just remember to blow it out before getting into bed. 

Treat yourself with this overnight facial that melts into skin for intense hydration and brightening by morning.

A pre-bedtime soak is definitely the way to go. 

A few spays of this product on your pillow will put you in the headspace to unwind. 

This magnesium spray is key for relaxing the mind and body after a hard workout. 

This essential oil blend contains pine, lemon, and clove.

Spray some of this light mist onto your hands or pillow. Then take three deep breaths, and you'll be in full-on relaxation mode. 

If you're not quite ready to go all in on essential oils and electronic diffusers but are curious about the power of scent for helping with sleep, a reed diffuser is a good place to start.

These gummies give your skin a boost while you get your beauty rest. 

If you like to wind down with the help of your latest Netflix binge, try using this blue-light blocker to mitigate unnecessary light pollution before bed. 

You can find less-expensive eye masks, but it will be hard to find a better one at this price. 

Pair your silk eye mask with a silk pillowcase to protect your hair from breakage while you sleep. 

If you don't already have a weighted blanket, now is the time to invest in one—trust us. 

It's hard not to love fun, fuzzy slippers. 

A matching set always puts us in the mood for a good night's sleep. 

These crisp, white, long-sleeved pj's are what dreams are made of. 

Don't underestimate the relaxation power of a cozy robe. 

If you're worried about leaving your phone in another room at night, try this alarm clock made for heavy sleepers. It will wake you up gradually by brightening slowly, then sound an alarm at the desired time. 

This post was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated by Drew Elovitz.

Next: How I Finally Trained Myself to Sleep on My Back