Food Induced Nightmares

That’s right, the food you eat before you sleep can lead to nightmares. The next time you’re thinking about a little pre-sleep snack, be sure to avoid one that’ll wake you up in the middle of the night. Below are the foods to avoid before going to bed.

Sugary Snacks

For sweet dreams, avoiding sweets is just the thing! Chocolates, cakes, and candies are just a few items that have been linked to nightmares. In a study in Frontiers in Psychology, students found a correlation between disturbing dreams and cookies and cake in 31% of those tested. Chocolate has an added detriment in that it contains caffeine, which can keep you awake. Not only can chocolate make it difficult to fall asleep, but eating it before bed can also give you bad dreams, making the sleep you finally attain a restless one (Kadel).

Breads & Pastas

This may come as a surprise, but starchy foods like bread and pasta can also lead to bad dreams. Why would breads and pastas cause nightmares? It all goes back to sugar. When these foods are broken down, they are converted to glucose and thus create a similar effect as sugary foods. This doesn’t mean all starchy foods will cause you trouble. In a study in Plos One, rice was found to increase sleep quality (Kadel).

Spicy Foods

These tasty foods may be great for clearing out the sinuses, but when it comes to digesting them, they take more effort. This added effort from your body is what can cause the nightmares. “A study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology found that adding Tabasco sauce to subjects’ dinners noticeably disturbed their sleep. This is because the heat of the food elevates the body’s temperature and could therefore disturb brain activity and cause nightmares” (Kadel).


As we have said before in previous posts, alcohol is terrible for sleep anyway. Yes, it may help in falling asleep initially, but it disrupts the different sleep cycles often resulting in restless sleep (nightmares), poor sleep (lack of proper REM sleep means not receiving proper rejuvenating rest), and can cause fitful sleep (waking up in the middle of the night, sometimes frequently).

Final Notes

Don’t think we are trying to say to avoid sugar, breads, pastas, spicy foods, and alcohol altogether. The main factor in how these foods disrupt your sleep or give you nasty dreams is time. If your body has the time to digest them enough before bed, you’ll sleep just fine.

-Quit Counting Sheep…Sleep with a Wolf!


Kadel, Jessica. “What Food Types Can Cause Nightmares?” Sleep Science, https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/what-food-types-can-cause-nightmares/. Accessed 28 June 2018.

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