Sleep is a huge part of the wellness picture. That’s why I talk about it with almost all of my coaching clients. The quality of our sleep has a huge impact on our energy, work performance, relationships, and even appetite control. Today I’ve got a guest post from Sara Westgreen, a researcher from Tuck Sleep, a non-commercial community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. If you want to get a solid night of sleep, what you have for dinner can make a big difference. Read on to learn more! 


Foods to Avoid at Dinner for a Good Night’s Sleep

Food can have a negative effect on your sleep quality. Caffeine, excessive fat or sugar, and more can make it difficult to fall asleep, or interfere with restful sleep. Avoid eating these foods for dinner, especially if you’re eating shortly before bed. 

  • Heavy meals before bed. No matter what you’re eating, a large meal right before bed is going to be a problem for sleep. While your body should be focusing on rest and restoration, a heavy meal shifts the focus to digestion instead. If you need to eat a large meal, do so more than a few hours before bed.

  • Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is delicious, but it’s a source of caffeine. So even if you’ve avoided coffee all afternoon and evening, the caffeine in dark chocolate can make you feel more alert and make it difficult to get to sleep.

  • Alcohol. A nightcap before bed sounds friendly, and while alcohol can help you drift off to sleep more easily, the quality of your sleep will suffer. Your sleep will be more shallow and you may wake up in the night.

  • Ice cream. Ice cream is a comforting treat, but it has lots of fat and sugar. The sugar will energize you and make it difficult to fall asleep. The fat may make you uncomfortable as you’re sleeping, and consuming it just before bed means you won’t have time to let your body burn off any of the fat before you go to sleep.

Breakfast In Bed

Photo courtesy of Tuck

What to Eat Instead

  • Milk. If you drank a glass of warm milk before bed as a child, you were on to something. Milk is rich in sleep inducing tryptophan, which can relax your brain.

  • Green leafy vegetables. Get a good dose of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K with this low fat food.

  • Bananas. Bananas also contain tryptophan, and can help you feel more tired. They contain muscle relaxants magnesium and potassium, which can help your entire body relax as you drift off to sleep.

  • Nuts. Rich in magnesium, nuts can promote muscle relaxation and offer protein for the body that can stabilize blood sugar levels as you sleep.

  • Complex carbohydrates. Carbs in general will make you feel sleepy, but complex carbohydrates can carry your sleepy feelings through the night. Try quinoa or a baked sweet potato to release insulin in the body and carry tryptophan to the brain.

Practice Healthy Sleep Habits

Eating the right foods before bed is just one part of healthy sleep habits. Maintain a regular bedtime and bedtime routine, avoid pitfalls such as heavy exercise at night, and keep your sleep environment dark, comfortable, cool, and quiet at night for restful and restorative sleep.



Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.



This has been another installment of the Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.

Thinking Out Loud2 - Guest Post: Foods to Avoid at Dinner for a Good Night's Sleep




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