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Can't Sleep? These Are the 8 Surprising Things Keeping You Awake

When it comes to sleep saboteurs, we’re usually pretty savvy. Don’t scroll your Instagram feed right before bed? Yep, we know. Avoid drinking coffee after 2pm? Thank you, Captain Obvious. But it turns out that caffeinated drinks aren’t the only ingestible that can have a ruinous effect on your sleep. There are certain innocent-looking foods that can be responsible for the dark-looking bags positioned underneath your eyes.

Decaffeinated Drinks

Feeling smug because you opted for a decaf flat white after dinner to avoid the caffeine buzz? You might want to rethink that. Despite the name, decaffeinated coffee does contain some caffeine.

According to a study carried out by the University of Florida, there are around 188 milligrams of caffeine in a 16-ounce mug of coffee, while decaf only has about 9.4 milligrams. The researchers found that you’d need to drink around five to 10 cups of decaf for it to mimic the effects you feel after a cup of normal coffee, still the fact still remains that decaffeinated coffee could have the capacity to stimulate your body somewhat, so it’s probably best to avoid it before you hit the hay.

Fried Foods

Fries. Hamburgers. Fried chicken. While delectable, these types of foods are more difficult to digest— which can in turn disrupt your sleep. Opt for roasted, steamed or baked foods as a more sleep-friendly alternative (or stick to eating your bucket of fried chicken for lunch instead.)

Foods That Contain Tyramine

Unbeknownst to you, the amino acid tyramine, present in many fermented dairy foods, could be responsible for keeping you awake at night. Found in aged cheeses, yoghurts and sour cream (so, all of the good stuff), tyramine has been known to stimulate the brain. Always order the cheese platter for dessert? It could be time to change your order.


Having a “nightcap” might help you to drift off to sleep easier but, trust us, you will pay the price for it later on in the night. According to a study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, that reviewed 20 different studies around the sleep and alcohol consumption of 517 participants, drinking alcohol reduces REM sleep (the restorative part of our sleep cycle) and causes frequent waking at night.

“This review confirms that the immediate and short-term impact of alcohol is to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep… In addition, the higher the dose, the greater the impact on increasing deep sleep,” explained lead author of the study Irshaad Ebrahim, director of the London Sleep Center, in a statement.

“The effect of consolidating sleep in the first half of the night is offset by having more disrupted sleep in the second half of the night.


As delicious as they are, crudités have the ability to keep you awake counting sheep for hours. For the uninitiated, crudités are the umbrella term for vegetables like raw cauliflower, carrot, celery, broccoli and cucumber. Sadly, these guys can move through your digestive system causing discomfort, so beware if you eat them before lights out.

Heavy Dishes

Lying in bed awake and uncomfortable after a big dinner wishing you hadn’t gone for that third serving is a rite of passage every food lover has endured. The probable culprit for your sleeplessness? A dish that is high in protein, fats and fibre as these are harder for your body to digest.


Don’t stress, we’re not about to reveal that water secretly contains caffeine. But if you’re guilty of getting to 5pm and attempting to fit in your eight glasses of water for the day, this could be sabotaging your sleep. While water is fabulous for your body, drinking loads of fluids before bed will mean you’ll need to wake to go to the bathroom throughout the night.

Dark chocolate

Yeah, yeah, chocolate contains caffeine — so what’s new? While most chocolate bars don’t contain a huge amount of caffeine some darker chocolate bars can contain up to 80 milligrams (almost the amount of half a cup of coffee). Switch to milk chocolate if you find your usual dark choccy is disrupting your sleep.

If you are concerned about your health, wellbeing or sleep, your first port of call should be your GP, who will advise a correct treatment plan.

Now that we’re on the topic, here are 10 simple ways to enhance the quality of your sleep – starting from tonight! – plus the 7 surprising things making you tired.

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