Snacks generally fall into 2 categories: foods that induce sleep and foods that give us energy. I’m sure it’s no surprise that I would prefer you stick to the sleep-inducing category.
If you're leaving two hours between dinner and bedtime you'll give your body enough time to concentrate on digestion before switching gears into nighttime mode. Your body has a lot of restorative work to do while you sleep, and allowing enough time for your last meal to digest is important.
But what happens if you get hungry before bed, or find having a little sumthin' before bed comforting? Or what if you’re waking-up every morning ravenous? Another issue many people have is waking-up around 3:00 AM. This can be caused by unstable blood sugar, so a small snack before bed could really help!
If you’re gonna have a bedtime snack, look for complex carbohydrates with a small amount of protein and calcium, and keep it to no more than 150-200 calories.
GREAT BEDTIME SNACK IDEAS
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Whole grain toast with almond butter - A small serving of rice
Also, foods that contain magnesium are wonderful. Magnesium deficiency has been associated with insomnia, muscle cramps, irritability, higher levels of stress, anxiety and trouble relaxing, all of which can affect our sleep.
- A small bowl of oatmeal. Oats encourage insulin production and naturally raise blood sugar, as well as promoting melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.
- A banana would also be a good option. Although normally considered an energy-boosting food, bananas are rich in magnesium and contain serotonin (the happy hormone) and melatonin.
- Walnuts and cherries also contain melatonin!
Just be careful to limit the amount of nuts you eat before bed because the calorie count can climb quickly. Stick to a small handful.
THE MAGIC OF TRYPTOPHAN
Let’s talk about Tryptophan! Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that regulates mood, induces sleep, and fights anxiety. It’s present in most protein-based foods and it’s the magic behind Thanksgiving turkey. You know, the one that puts the men to sleep in front of the football game while the women clean-up? Tryptophan is also plentiful in chocolate, oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
WHAT NOT TO EAT BEFORE BED
- Spicy food makes it harder for your body to regulate temperature, and can cause heartburn, both not great for sleep.
- Fatty food is hard for your stomach to digest and can cause heartburn.
If you like to have a hot drink before bed, keep it decaffeinated, and make it small so it doesn’t keep you running to the toilet all night.
A small cup of herbal tea with honey is a perfect choice! One teaspoon of honey is enough to stimulate the release of melatonin in the brain.
Another drink to avoid before bed would be Alcohol! Alcohol can prevent you falling into a deep sleep, and can give you a restless night, so finish your glass earlier on in the evening. The rule is to leave one hour for every one-ounce serving of alcohol so your body has time to metabolize it.
Do you have a favourite bedtime snack?