The top foods and drinks to avoid for better sleep (and what to eat instead for a good night's rest)

Sleep is a huge contributor to our overall health and wellbeing and a good eight hours of rest should be non-negotiable. That's not always achievable however, so leading nutritionist Karin G. Reiter explains how you can maximise the quality of your shut-eye so that night-owls are ready to face the morning.



How to make the most of your night's sleep

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Sleep is important! Why?

  • It’s when the body detoxifies itself.
  • It’s when the body repairs and grows new cells (which is critical to anti-ageing).
  • It clears the mind and recharges the body.

Gone are the days when sleeping for four hours was considered an achievement; today we say, “bring on the snooze”. To improve your sleep:

  • Get in a routine. Go to bed at the exact same hour every night and wake up at the same hour every morning.
  • Create a bedroom sanctuary. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, peaceful and de-cluttered. Invest in beautiful cotton sheets. Make sure the temperature is cool. Use essential oils to calm down before bed (jasmine, lavender and rose are my favourites).
  • Turn off the devices. Create a no-tech zone in the bedroom, especially Wi-Fi devices. Avoid using your computer, iPhone and television for two hours before you go to sleep.



    What foods and drinks should be avoided for better sleep?

    1. Caffeine. Caffeinated products decrease quality of sleep. Avoid coffee, tea, chocolate, coke (and other caffeinated drinks), energy drinks and pain relievers that contain caffeine four to six hours before bedtime.

    2. Alcohol. Although alcohol may initially induce sleep, after a few hours it acts as a stimulant, increasing the number of awakenings and generally decreasing quality of sleep later in the night. It is best to limit alcohol consumption, especially within three hours of bedtime. If you're drinking alcohol in the evening, balance each drink with a glass of water to dilute the alcohol's effects.

    3. Beverage before bedtime. Limit fluid intake for a couple of hours before bedtime to prevent the need to use the bathroom in the night.

    4. Sleep stealing foods. Avoid foods that are heavy, rich or fried. Chilies, ginger, eggplant, tomato, zucchini and bacon are known to zap sleep, too.


    Create a bedroom sanctuary - quiet, dark, peaceful and de-cluttered. Turn off devices.
    — Karin G. Reiter
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    1. Tahini. Add tahini (sesame seed paste) to your dinner (it’s loaded with calcium) or eat a banana as a bedtime snack.
    2. Superfood nightcap. Drink a cup of chamomile tea or a warm cup of almond milk mixed with one tablespoon of raw cacao powder.
    3. Magnesium. Take a good quality supplement two hours before bed.

    *A Note on Sleep and No-carb/Low-carb Diets

    When you avoid carbohydrates for long periods of time (like skipping a meal and eating low carb purposely), your body responds by producing cortisol. Cortisol releases glucose into the blood, which then triggers an insulin response. Eating little to no carbs at lunch and dinner (or skipping a meal) can keep you up at night because of high cortisol levels in your blood (a phenomenon called “tired but wired”). For optimal sleep, it’s recommended to eat ½ to one cup of good carbs (such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, brown rice and quinoa) with lunch and dinner.

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    Author profile: Karin G. Reiter


    Functional medicine nutritionist, fitness trainer, author, wife, mama and founder of Nutritious N’ Delicious,  Karin has been a leader in the nutrition and wellness industry for the last 10 years. Karin founded Nutritious N’ Delicious in 2011 in Australia (after a corporate career in law and finance) and her aim was to touch as many people as possible and provide knowledge, support, guidance and advice on building a healthier lifestyle. She has led workshops and nutrition programs in Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel and Australia. Karin’s passion is to educate, to ask questions and to bring to light the importance of natural, nourishing foods. Karin is a passionate speaker & journalist in the area of nutrition and has written for numerous publications in the USA, Australia, Israel and throughout Asia. Karin is also the author of 2 children’s recipe books branded “The rosy cheeked kids”. You will find Karin travelling with her family all over the world, in the kitchen developing and creating healthy recipes or drinking a green juice after a yoga practice.

    Product photography by Charlie Cameron (@lottieisloving)