We’re all guilty of the occasional late night snack…
But did you know that certain foods can actually affect the quality of your sleep, both negatively and positively?
While everyone is aware of the turkey-induced sleep coma associated with Thanksgiving, often mistakenly attributed to tryptophan, studies have shown that we tend to fall asleep after big meals simply from overeating.
That’s not always a good thing however, as overeating certain foods, such as too much protein, can inevitably lead to restlessness later in the night as your body works overtime to digest everything.
If you’re looking to improve the quality of your sleep with a more balanced diet, check out the list of foods below and try to incorporate some into your nightly routine.
Everyone knows that sugary foods aren’t the best option before bedtime, but if you’re craving something sweet it’s perfectly fine to reach for a piece of fruit! Bananas make an especially great choice at night because they are full of snooze-inducing carbohydrates.
Perhaps you don’t think of this ice-cream topper as an ideal snack to catch some z’s, but you’d be surprised to find out that the tart fruit helps to naturally raise levels of melatonin, a natural sleep hormone produced by the body.
Loaded with fortified carbohydrates to help raise insulin production, cereal and oatmeal are just the thing to ease your mind and prepare your body for bed. Just make sure you choose a healthy whole-grain option, and not something that resembles a bowl of candy.
Valerian Root and Chamomile are long-purported to have mild sedative qualities, making them the perfect choice for a relaxing nighttime beverage.
Loaded with magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant, these nuts are a great choice for a quick and easy snack before bed.
Warm milk has long been associated with sleep, and for good reason. Filled with calcium, it helps release melatonin and promote relaxation and sleepiness.
Believe it or not, lettuce reportedly has a unique nutrient known as lactucarium that has been shown to provide a sleep-inducing effect similar to that of opium. For a tasty tea, simply steep the plant in hot water and a little mint.
Studies have shown that people who ate rice, namely Jasmine Rice, a few hours before bedtime, were able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The reason is believed to be the high-glycemic index, which raises blood sugar levels and promotes sleep.
Rich in vitamin B-6, this quick and easy snack is the ideal treat before bedtime.
While protein in general takes a long time for the body to digest, a little fish before bedtime can still be helpful as part of dinner. Loaded with b-vitamins, they’re an ideal protein source for late in the day meals.
Low in fat and high in carbs, this movie-favorite will have you sleeping soundly in no time. Just be sure to choose a healthy option and not to overdo it!
The Not So Good…
It almost goes without saying that stimulants of any kind are probably not the best choice when you’re trying to wind down to go to sleep. Same goes for energy drinks of all varieties as well, whether they’re sugar free or not.
While alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, the effects are often-short lived as our bodies become dehydrated, causing us to awake in the night and not enter the crucial REM stage for deep sleep. Not to mention an excessive intake of fluids in and of itself can leave you stumbling for the restroom in the middle of the night.
Unfortunately that after-dinner desert may be just the thing keeping you up at night. Because it contains caffeine, chocolate is best avoided at night.
Believe it or not, most protein sources, even lean ones such as chicken and turkey, are not great to eat before bed. The reason? Protein takes longer for the body to digest, which is what makes it great to eat during the day, keeping you full, but not before bed.
Filled with fat and sodium, increasing acid production and dehydration, there’s really not much of an argument to eat fast food in the first place, so you definitely want to avoid it when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Next time you’re feeling hungry before bed, skip the bowl of ice cream and grab something carbo-licious.
And remember, even though these foods are considered healthy, you’re still going to want to watch your portion size before bedtime. Sweet dreams!