A Quick List of Foods that Keep You Awake

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The National Sleep Foundation points out that your diet could be responsible if you have trouble falling asleep. Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and spicy foods have been identified as responsible for keeping a person awake when he or she should be sleeping.

Let’s now look in greater detail at foods that keep you awake.


Caffeine is popular among those who need a quick energy boost and those who need to keep awake. Usually consumed in the form of coffee, caffeine works by retarding the action of hormones responsible for inducing sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, caffeine has the potential to keep the mind alert and keep sleep away. This is welcome among people who need to work but feel sleepy. However, the sleep-busting capability is only temporary. As the effect of caffeine wears off, you’ll find that you’re back to normal self.

Consume coffee in moderation when you need to keep awake and avoid caffeine close to bedtime if you don’t want trouble falling asleep.


Many people with insomnia resort to alcohol to help them fall asleep. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, although alcohol helps induce sleep, it disrupts the second half of sleep. It causes the subject to awaken from dreams. Falling asleep again is then difficult. This in turn gives rise to daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Continued consumption of alcohol before bedtime will decrease its sleep-inducing effect. At the same time, it increases the sleep-disrupting effects.

In short, what alcohol does is adversely affect your serotonin (hormone responsible for promoting sleep) levels in the long term.

Foods Capable of Reflux Events

There are some foods that prevent you from falling asleep by inducing coughing or choking. Foods responsible for this condition are citrus fruits, fatty and fried foods, spaghetti sauce, pizza, chili, garlic and onions and even mint flavorings. Avoid consuming these foods close to bedtime.

Water: Caffeine Alternative

Many who need to keep awake during working hours, especially in the afternoon, resort to sugar or caffeine in the form of colas or coffee. While they give you a temporary energy boost, you’re likely to feel more tired when their effects wear off. Worse, they leave you craving for more.

You may become `addicted’ to these temporary energy boosters and find that you don’t feel energetic without the help of these stimulants. You may even get headaches if you don’t have your daily fix.

Caffeine for one is diuretic. It promotes urination and if you don’t consume enough water, you may find yourself dehydrated.

It would be a good idea to replace colas and coffee with water. The next time you feel drowsy in the afternoon, reach for a bottle of water and you’ll find yourself refreshed. Of course you would find this a little `unpalatable’ especially if you’re used to your daily caffeine fix. However, if you want a healthy way of beating fatigue or drowsiness, water is the way to go.

Eating Habits

While most of these foods don’t cause insomnia per se, the manner in which you consume them could lead to difficulty falling asleep.

So, it’s advised that you avoid foods with high fat content, chocolate and spicy foods before bedtime. Stay away, too, from Chinese dishes, where the Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) content acts as a stimulant which disrupts sleep.

Also if you’re fond of consuming large meals, do it during lunch instead of at dinner. Also, eat at least two to three hours before going to sleep.


https://www.sleepfoundation.org/alert/food-could-keep-you-awake - general information on foods that keep you awake

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa41.htm - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - alcohol and sleep

https://sleep.lovetoknow.com/Good_Ways_to_Stay_Awake - caffeine and sleep