Best & Worst Foods to Consume Before Bed
Many of us are always looking for ways to get a good night’s sleep. This won’t be new information for you but it is a good reminder that maintaining adequate amounts of quality sleep is vital to your overall health and well-being. It’s important for your energy restoration, making smart lifestyle choices, strengthening your immune system, fostering focus and attentiveness, reducing anxiety, and increasing your libido (woohoo!). Wouldn’t it be great to wake up every morning feeling refreshed, focused and excited to move through your day?
Conversely, getting inadequate sleep at night (somewhere between 4-6 hours) can have harmful effects on your body too. It is a well-known fact that sleep deprivation can cause weight gain, increase risk of chronic disease, increase risk of accidents and injuries, deteriorate your cognitive function and increase anxiety. How many people do you know that take medication to combat sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression when, more than likely, all they need are natural ways to unwind at the end of the day?
One of the most overlooked contributing factors that impacts your quality of sleep – either positively or negatively – is food. Certain foods promote sleep while other foods keep you up at night.
The best advice for a good night’s sleep is to not eat or drink after your last meal of the day which, for most people, is around 6-7 pm. However, if you’re truly hungry, don’t ignore your body’s signals either. It’s hard to fall asleep when you’re hungry or your blood sugar is low. Choosing the right snack before bedtime may help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Also be mindful of the size of your snack. You don’t want to overeat and be so uncomfortable that you can’t sleep or you suffer heartburn.
The general principle is protein, healthy fats and fiber-rich foods are better to have before bed than processed foods (which are made up of sugar, simple carbs and cheap unhealthy fats), spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol.
Best foods to eat before bed:
- Bananas are rich in magnesium, serotonin and melatonin, all which encourage sleep
- Raspberries and cherries contain melatonin
- Nut butters and peanut butter have healthy fats that raise your levels of serotonin
- Almonds are full of the amino acid tryptophan and magnesium
- Honey stimulates the release of melatonin and shuts off the orexin (a hypothalamus hormone that keeps you alert)
- Oatmeal is full of vitamins, minerals and melatonin
- Turkey is a great source of protein and tryptophan that helps you to feel full AND sleepy
- Cottage cheese also contains tryptophan
- Plain Greek yogurt is protein packed (make sure you don’t get any flavored variety as that has added sugar)
- Caffeine-free herbal tea can help you unwind before bed. Try chamomile, passionflower, peppermint or Valerian
Worst foods to avoid before bed:
- Alcohol prohibits us from falling into a deep, restorative sleep
- Coffee, tea and soda are high in caffeine which stimulates the brain for up to 10 hours.
- Hard cheeses contain high levels of the amino acid tyramine which stimulates the brain and can cause headaches or migraines
- Spicy foods contain capsaicin which can affect your body’s temperature and make it difficult for you to get solid sleep
- Fatty foods are hard on the digestive system and can cause heartburn
- Sugary foods will give you a boost of quick energy and a quick crash which can leave you feeling lousy the next day
So if you must have a snack and it’s close to bedtime, pass up that bag of greasy potato chips or sugary cookies and instead fix a small bowl of warm oatmeal mixed with some Greek yogurt, topped with warm honey, banana and chopped almonds. Your belly will thank you and you will wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, focused and excited to move through your day!
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