If falling asleep often feels more challenging than training for a marathon, you might be able to blame your diet. While eating a balanced mix of fruits, veggies, and protein will make you pass out like a baby, the second you turn off the lights, there is a handful of foods that do the exact opposite.
Some foods are known for causing insomnia—and eating them in the evening is especially bad news for your sleep schedule, Byrdie reports. According to the Cleveland Clinic, that’s because while some edible options promote a healthy slumber, others decrease the sleep hormone serotonin, which makes resting up no small feat. The next time you’re having trouble catching zzz’s, try eliminating these common culprits from your diet, and you’ll be on the express train to snoozeville in no time.
Eliminate these 6 sleep-stealing items from your diet for a better night’s sleep.
1. Fried foods
Fried foods not only bring down your serotonin levels, but your body takes longer to digest the stuff, says the Cleveland Clinic. Because of the slowed digestion, you’re kept awake longer. It’s just another reason to bake your fries instead: You’ll get the health benefits from the potatoes without all the oil.
Start your day with coffee, but def don’t end with it. A cup of joe can keep you awake—even if you only have the smallest amount. (And yes, that goes for PSLs too!) To avoid letting coffee ruin your good night’s sleep, have your last cup by 2 p.m, says the Cleveland Clinic. And, avoid other sources of caffeine, like tea and soda.
This one can be tricky, considering drinking alcohol is often an evening thing. Whether you’re unwinding from work with a glass of rosé or grabbing a cocktail at happy hour with friends, just be aware that the booze might make falling asleep more difficult.
Since alcohol effects the body two different ways—first by stimulating, then by sedating—drinking too close to bedtime might mean you’ll get stuck trying to pass out as your blood alcohol content is still rising, reports Psychology Today. Instead of putting you to sleep, drinks will keep you up until your blood alcohol content falls back down—and that can take quite a while. To help combat these effects, keep the alcohol to a minimum, and balance it out with water.
4. Red meat
Eating red meat might taste good, but it’s bad for your sleep. Like anything fried, the often fatty food takes longer for your body digest, keeping you awake way past your bedtime. Instead, go for chicken, fish, or plant-based protein sources like beans, lentils, quinoa, and tempeh.
5. Spicy foods
Sorry, sriracha lovers: Go ahead and bring the heat for lunch, but when it comes to dinner, you might want to hold back. According to Byrdie, spicy meals can lead to pain and acid reflux, keeping you awake at night. Your best bet is saving the hot sauce for earlier in the day so you don’t have to deal with indigestion later on.
Chugging a glass of water before hitting the sack might sound like a good idea, but you’ll likely regret that decision once you’re running to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Instead, aim to get your H2O fix throughout the day, like by starting your morning with lemon water (it’s a beauty hack celebs love).