Finding Solutions for Insomnia

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Diet Do's and Don'ts for Middle-of-the-Night Insomnia

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So many aspects of your everyday life—including what you eat and drink—play a role in whether you experience restorative sleep or middle-of-the-night insomnia. Keeping certain strategies in mind as you go about your day could lead to more restful sleep at night. Consider this your go-to guide to help you make quick and easy decisions from one meal to the next.

Do plan your last meal or snack about three hours before bed. This will help you avoid acid reflux and feeling too full when you lie down. It will also help prevent hunger pangs, which can keep you up at night.

Don't drink alcohol before bed. Although it can make you feel sleepy, it can also prevent you from reaching the deeper stages of sleep. You may also be more likely to wake at night   from chemicals released as your body breaks down the alcohol.

Do try eating several smaller, more frequent meals during the day. With time, this will help reduce late-night cravings for unhealthy foods like chips and ice cream, which can disrupt your sleep.

Don't drink caffeine in the afternoon. It can take up to eight hours to clear the stimulant from your body. Keep in mind that coffee isn't the only drink that contains caffeine; many teas, soft drinks, energy drinks, and chocolate do, too.

Do drink plenty of water throughout the day, but avoid consuming liquids about two hours before you go to bed. This is especially helpful for people with nocturia—the need to urinate several times per night. 

Don't eat a heavy meal before bed. Large meals can cause indigestion and acid reflux, which can interfere with your sleep.

Key Takeaways

  • What you eat and drink throughout the day can affect how you sleep at night.

  • Smart tips for better slumber include not eating a heavy meal or drinking alcohol close to bedtime.

  • Don't drink caffeine in the afternoon, and avoid consuming liquids about two hours before you hit the sack.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 May 11
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Eat Right…and Get Some Sleep. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=3654#.UE8ijxyliHJ

  2.  Healthy Late-Night Snacking. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442452691&terms=sleep#.UE8jVByliHJ

  3. Your Guide to Healthy Sleep. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf

  4. Frequent Urination at Night. National Sleep Foundation. http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/nocturia-and-sleep