night terrors from food

Foods that cause night terrors

Night terrors are usually caused by everyday events and scary thoughts. You might find it strange to believe but certain foods can cause you to have night terrors. The connection between food and night terrors has been in existence for a very long time. 

Scholars for over 2000 years have written about the connection between foods or diets and bad dreams. Currently, there is an actual study that shows how foods cause night terrors. This study was conducted at a university in Canada. 

In this study, 396 participants (students) were polled daily, for two weeks, on their diet and the quality of their dream.  The students also had to answer questions on their diet habits, dream habits, sleep, psychological function, and overall health. Based on these students’ responses, researchers were able to come up with a list of foods that cause nightmares.

It should however be noted that not all foods cause night terrors though. 

In this article, you will get to know about night terrors, what causes them apart from foods, and also get to know what type of foods cause night terrors. Some of these foods on the list might shock you.

What is a night terror?

A night terror is a feeling of great fear experienced at night which causes you to wake up unexpectedly. They are characterized by episodes of crying and intense screaming. When they occur, it makes it difficult for one to get back to sleep out of fear of experiencing the same or different night terror. 

Causes of night terror apart from food

There are other causes of night terrors apart from food. Some of these causes are very common and are experienced by almost everyone once in a while. Some causes of night terrors include:

Stress, being sleep deprived, fever, depression, anxiety, too much caffeine, sleeping in a different location from home, and so on. 

Signs and symptoms of night terrors

You might experience any of these symptoms when you have a night terror.

  • Heart beating fast
  • sweating
  • pupils dilating
  • fast breathing
  • tossing and turning on the bed
  • screaming
  • not conscious of your surroundings, etc. 

Can night terrors be diagnosed?

Yes, night terrors can be diagnosed. Doctors can make diagnoses based on your medical history and a physical exam.

Tests like EEG (a test that measures brain activity to look for a seizure disorder) and sleep study (also known as polysomnography) are used to diagnose a person suffering from night terrors.

Can foods cause night terrors?

For over 2000 years, scholars have discovered a connection between foods and night terrors. In modern times, a study in Canada was conducted to know if foods do cause night terrors. And so, the answer is yes, foods can cause night terrors.

What type of foods cause night terrors?

Even though food can cause night terrors, not all kinds of food can make you have night terrors.

Below are some of the foods which are well known for causing night terrors for people.


Eating cheese or foods that contain cheese can result in you having night terrors. Scientists have discovered that cheese contains the amino acid called tryptophan which is reported to put people in very deep states of rest or sleep. Falling into a deep state of sleep can cause you to have bad dreams or night terrors. So, it is best to avoid eating cheese right before you go to bed.


Sweets like chocolate are well known for giving people bad dreams. Chocolates contain caffeine which reduces your ability to fall into a deep sleep and has high sugar content. The combination of these 2 factors can cause you to have night terrors which can leave you sweating profusely 


In a study, it was reported that eating greasy junk food such as chips was the cause of 12.5% of all disturbing dreams. Chips contain grease which can affect your digestive tract causing you to wake up frequently throughout your sleep. 


Diaries contain tryptophan which can cause you to fall into a deep state of sleep. Falling into a deep state of sleep is a recipe for having night terrors. 

Hot sauce

Spicy food can increase your body’s temperature which can change the way dreams form during REM sleep (Rapid Eye Motion). Eating hot sauce right before you sleep can cause you to have high-stress dreams and horrible dreams.


Headaches and hangovers are caused by alcohol but you know that taking alcohol right before you sleep can give you some of the worst nightmares you can ever experience. Many people have reported having intense and stressful night terrors as a result of taking alcohol just before bed. 


As stated earlier, some of the foods on this list might come as a surprise to you. 

Bread, also known as carbs, causes nightmares and that is not shocking since sugar consumption has a similar impact. Starches convert to glucose (a type of sugar) so eating a lot of it before an evening’s rest is certainly not a great thought.

Bread should be promptly eaten in the day to give your body time to process before rest.


A study conducted showed that the participants experienced night terrors after they drank soda earlier in the day. This is due to the high sugar and caffeine content of soda. 


Bananas contain large amounts of potassium which are good for muscle recovery. However, Banana is also filled with natural sugars which can cause your stomach to digest overnight making you experience night terrors and even vivid dreams

Ice cream

Ice cream contains sugars and dairy which are known to put you in a deep state of sleep and as discussed earlier, falling into a deep state of sleep can cause you to have nightmares.

Treatment for night terrors

There is no direct treatment for night terrors. They go away on their own. However, you can prevent yourself from getting night terrors if you avoid eating the foods listed above just before you go to bed.


Michael Sarfo
Content Creator at Wapomu

Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for and a writer for Wapomu

Author at

Dr. Abel Daartey is a pharmacist by profession, a teacher, and a mentor by nature. He enjoys reading scientific journals and articles and publications in neuroscience and related topics. He aims at churning out content that educates the public and health care providers in meeting the healthcare needs of the populace.

Post navigation

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Why is one of my eyes smaller than the other?

Can a pregnant lady eat black fungus?

Coughing up white phlegm with bubbles – What causes that?