Fast Food And Sleep: All Things You Need To Know

Fast Food And Sleep

Fast Food And Sleep

A good night’s sleep is something that can literally make one’s day. A person makes a lot of effort to get quality sleep, and often even resorts to taking supplements. Yet, one might not get the results they desire. You will be shocked to know the reason behind this – your eating habits.

That’s right, whatever you eat during the day affects how you sleep at night. Minerals and proteins from one’s diet help form amino acids needed for quality sleep cycles. Whereas eating inadequate fiber along with greater quantities of saturated fat and sugar has been associated with poor quality sleep.

Our food choices help maintain our circadian rhythm, the body clock responsible for regulating the schedule of sleep-wake cycles 24/7. It induces healthy periods of sleep, wakefulness, appetite, and the metabolization of the food.

Drastic changes in one’s eating patterns reprogram this circadian rhythm that their body follows. Hence, what and when we eat affects sleep and metabolic health.

A sleep-promoting diet is varied and rich in fruits and vegetables, also complemented with whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy. One has to limit the amount of high-sugar products and heavily processed foods they consume each day.

However, it is a fact that fast food is what appeals to most people’s taste buds. But having it too often and too much causes a reason for alarm. Even worse, it has no benefits.

Health Consequences of Eating Fast Food

Eating fast food before sleep can lead to discomfort and an inability to provide your body with a healthy restorative cycle. Following are some issues that can be triggered by one’s late-night fast food binges: 

  • Heartburn: Fast food is generally processed and greasy, and can thus trigger heartburns. This is due to a backflow of food particles and acid from the stomach into the esophagus, which can lead to mildly painful (due to inflammation) and sleepless nights. 
  • Obesity: Fast food consumption has a direct impact on one’s weight. This can even lead to obesity. Obese people generally suffer from other medical problems like heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and sleep apnea, which affect one’s sleep quality.
  • Depression: Snacking on fast-food before a person heads to sleep has also been linked to depression. Binge-eating and bulimia are common eating disorders that have hidden nuances of depression. Depression causes long periods of unproductivity and can have a negative impact on one’s sleep experiences.

Side Effects of Fast Food on Sleep Quality

You might not even be aware of the effects of specific types of fast food on your sleep. Fret not, as we have curated a list of food items that can have a negative impact on your sleep. Be wary of these (at least before bedtime) and you can see the results almost immediately.


Chocolate is a major source of caffeine; a natural stimulant used to promote alertness and prevent fatigue. While this can be desired at times, it invariably decreases one’s chances of falling asleep with ease.


Pizza is probably the most preferred fast food item on this list and has a natural charm that appeals to its eaters. But, the combination of fat in the cheese and the acid in the tomato sauce reduces your quality of sleep. 

High-acid foods trigger acid reflux, which can cause heartburn. This leads to a night of disturbed sleep and leaves you tired the next day.


Alcohol is known to relax the oesophageal sphincter, which normally works to keep the acid down in the stomach. This causes the acid from the alcohol to enter into your throat, giving rise to a burning feeling deep in your chest.


Eating burgers can cause fragmented sleep, leading to a day full of drowsiness and yawns.

High Sugar Food

Eating high-sugar foods can make one’s blood sugar spike and crash. This can lead to hyperactivity and make it terribly hard to fall asleep at night.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods tend to boost metabolism, but consuming them late in the evening can trigger heartburn. Their thermogenic properties can increase the body’s core temperature, which is supposed to be low when one is headed to sleep. This can cause plenty of twisting and turning while you try to sleep.

Chili Sauce

Chili hot sauce gets its heat from the compound capsaicin that is found in chili peppers. This can cause the lower oesophageal sphincter to stay open for longer than usual, causing intense sensations of chest burn, leading to sleepless nights.

If you want a good night’s sleep and an overall improvement in your health, you need to eat right. Say goodbye to processed sugars and fat, and focus on what is required by the body, mainly being protein and fiber.

Eating Habits to Adopt to Prevent Poor Quality Sleep

However, asking you to just give up on fast food seems a bit harsh. What we advise you to do is be smart with your food choices. You needn’t entirely give up on the stuff you like. To help you, we have listed some ways in which you can simultaneously satisfy your taste buds and sleep cycle.

  • An easy way to reduce the fat you consume is to shift to whole grain options. Whole grains reduce hunger pangs and help increase one’s serotonin levels, making it easier to sleep.
  • Avocados are tasty and nutrient-rich. They make great dips like guacamole which can be used in place of mayonnaise and ketchup.
  • A grilled option is always better than a fried one. Less grease and fewer calories combine to provide a better quality of sleep.
  • The aversion people have to salads is often stemmed from childhood instances of “eat your vegetables”. But salads are actually quite tasty. You should try it once in a while. Who knows, your taste buds might thank you?
  • Reduce the cheese. This might seem unnecessary initially, but as the clogging in your arteries clears up and you notice being rewarded with a good night’s sleep, you might not even miss it.
  • Avoid spicy food as much as possible, as they can cause indigestion and heartburn, which directly impact your sleep. Instead, go for something mild that can satiate your taste buds.
  • Instead of snacking on fast food items between meals, give fruits a shot. Fruits have a lot of health benefits while being tasty and refreshing at the same time.


Following a healthy and nutrient-rich diet improves the activity of brain health and thus has a direct impact on our sleep. The body is given the power to absorb proper nutrients, providing the brain the ideal chemical and hormonal environment. This helps produce new neurotransmitters it needs and use existing ones to cater to adequate sleep. And consult a doctor any serious situation. He can prescribed best medicine for treatment.

Hence, we notice a direct correlation between the consumption of fast food and the quality of one’s sleep. This correlation can lead to detrimental effects if not monitored from time to time. Eating right has a lot many benefits, and a good sleep cycle is also one of them.