I’m a dietitian – how beloved takeaways and your favorite junk food could be disrupting your sleep

A DIETITIAN has revealed how takeout and junk food could be keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Dietician Carrie Gabriel has highlighted several foods – including Britain’s favorite pizza – that could be keeping you awake.


A dietician has revealed how takeaways and junk food could be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleepCredit: Alamy
Dietitian Carrie Gabriel has highlighted several foods – including Britain's favorite pizza – that could keep you awake


Dietitian Carrie Gabriel has highlighted several foods – including Britain’s favorite pizza – that could keep you awakeCredit: Getty

She also pointed out a mistake people often make before bed that could have a detrimental effect.

Eating a large meal right before you lay down on your pillow can be hard to digest and lead to heartburn and acid reflux.

She told Everyday Health: “People with a more chronic form of acid reflux known as gastrointestinal reflux, or GERD, may have more trouble sleeping.”

Acid reflux occurs when the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus malfunctions – allowing food in the stomach to come back up.

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Lying down after a big meal — as well as certain types of food — can make it worse.

On average, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, according to the NHS.

It may be worth seeing if your diet may be interfering with the amount of sleep you get.

It should be noted though that everyone’s body is different and the foods that affect you may not impact someone else.

Gabriel, along with other dietitians, say the following foods are the most common culprits that can affect your sleep.


Overly processed junk food will definitely do your sleep a disservice.

Pizza is particularly bad though because it’s a double whammy – it’s high in saturated fat and sodium.

Gabriel said: “Foods high in saturated fat should be avoided at night – for example, butter, ice cream and fried foods like French fries.”

A small study published in January 2016 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that 26 normal-weight adults who usually slept seven to nine hours a night and ate saturated fat throughout the day led to lighter and lighter sleep. “less restorative”.

Bonnie Taub-Dix, a fellow dietician, said: “Many highly processed foods are also salty, which might cause you to wake up during the night looking for something to drink.”


Excess amounts of sugar have been linked to a number of health problems, including diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease, and can also make it harder to sleep.

While it’s well known to avoid culprits like chocolate, donuts, pies, desserts, and soft drinks before bed, smoothies might seem like a healthy snack to have.

The BMJ Open published research in March 2016 that looked at drinks marketed to children in the UK and found that packaged smoothie products on average contained even more sugar per serving (about two and a half teaspoons) than juice.

About 40% of the products tested contained nearly four teaspoons of sugar.

Taub-Dix said, “Sugar plays a role in many of our health issues, so it’s probably no surprise to see it on a list of foods to avoid at bedtime.”

She added that refined sugars can induce rapid fluctuations in your blood sugar, which can increase adrenaline and make it difficult to fall asleep.

Gabriel added, “If you’re hungry before bed, a complex carbohydrate or protein is a better choice, such as whole wheat toast or a banana with Greek yogurt.

“Try eating an open-faced peanut butter or almond butter sandwich on whole-grain bread.

“Almond or peanut butter is high in protein and healthy, unsaturated fats, while whole-wheat bread offers fiber and more complex carbohydrates than white bread, which keeps your blood sugar stable while you sleep. “

According to a February 2019 study published in the journal Cureus, bananas are a good choice before bed because they contain high levels of potassium, magnesium, and fiber, all of which have been shown to help promote restful sleep.


While the protein in cheese provides tryptophan – an amino acid that can help with relaxation and sleep – Gabriel said not all cheese has this effect.

Strong or aged cheeses such as cheddar, gruyere and parmesan contain high amounts of the amino acid tyramine, which increases heart rate, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Gabriel said, “If you’re looking for something creamy before bed, try almond butter on a few crackers instead.”

These foods contain magnesium, which research shows can help with insomnia.


Hot and spicy foods can cause acid reflux.

Taub-Dix said: “Acid reflux is most likely to occur during sleep when we are lying down, at which time a mixture of stomach acid and digested food can back up into the esophagus.

“Many people find that eating spicy foods can cause this effect during the day, let alone at bedtime, when the negative impact can be compounded.”

Anyone having spicy foods for dinner should wait three hours before going to bed to avoid aggravating any potential acid reflux that may result from lying down.

Gabriel said: “It allows digestion to occur and the contents of your stomach to move through your small intestine.

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“It can prevent problems like heartburn at night and even insomnia. The same goes for spicy dishes.

Some research shows that foods containing capsaicin, the heat responsible for spices, can interfere with sleep by raising body temperature.

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