You’ve probably heard that eating right before going to bed is not a good idea. After all, it can affect how you digest food and even your quality of sleep. Having a well-rested night is essential to how your brain performs, what type of mood you have, and your overall health. To help you enjoy a full eight hours, experts at Bed Kingdom have highlighted these nutritious foods to consume — along with a list of ones to avoid.
Nuts are known for their health-supporting benefits, yet when it comes to sleep, peanuts in particular have been shown to enhance your sleep quality, muscle growth, and stabilize blood sugar levels. Your body will absorb all of the heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and more that peanuts contain. Additionally, a sleep-inducing chemical called tryptophan is also found in peanuts, which helps you relax and rest. Combine peanuts with almonds, walnuts, and cashews for a broader range of sleep-supporting nutrients like melatonin, magnesium, and zinc.
String cheese is a surprising pick to help you doze peacefully. It’s loaded with fats and proteins that quell middle-of-the-night hunger pangs which your body digests more slowly overnight. Like peanut butter, it also contains tryptophan.
Experts have found that consuming a moderate amount of dark chocolate at least an hour before bed can improve sleep quality. Dark chocolate activates serotonin in your body, which is a chemical linked to calmness and relaxation. It’s also loaded with antioxidants and flavanols, two nutritious compounds that help reduce stress. Dark chocolate can be paired with bananas and almonds, both of which also support a better night’s sleep.
It seems that popcorn can cure more than theater munchies. When it comes to ideal sleep, it's loaded with healthy fiber and carbs that support serotonin production. Serotonin, along with melatonin, help with sleep regulation. They are released with the help of tryptophan, also found in popcorn. Melatonin is a hormone produced by your brain that assists with the timing of your circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock), and is essential to getting a full night’s rest.
Everyone is familiar with the inevitable itis that follows scarfing down a packed plate on Thanksgiving. While over-eating can certainly send you snoozing — especially when loaded with carbs — turkey actually contains tryptophan. To be clear, the instant food coma you might feel does not come from tryptophan, but rather your body’s digestion at work. Tryptophan works in the background and subtly coaxes you to sleep.
FOOD TO AVOID
Many nutritious foods can also negatively impact your sleep schedule. Tomatoes are an awesome source of vitamin C and potassium, but as the day winds down, their high acid content can result in indigestion, heartburn, and/or acid reflux. They should especially be avoided by people with sensitive stomachs.
Everyone is guilty of late-night munchies and what better snack to quell such cravings than chips? Loaded with salt, chips are undeniably delicious, yet the same fingerlicking salt can interrupt your sleep. According to Amerisleep, too much sodium can disrupt your body’s ability to regulate fluid balance, which causes it to retain water. That, of course, leads to frequent bathroom trips. Nothing’s worse than having to wake up at 4 am and experience the cold bathroom floor.
After a certain hour, fast food and convenience stores are oftentimes the only available food options. Delicious yet ultra-processed, instant noodles may make your stomach smile, but it does something else to your sleep quality. Processed foods have been linked to sleep disturbances, shorter sleep duration, and increased time it takes to fall asleep. Instant noodles simply lack the necessary nutrients, and when possible, should be avoided before bed.
High Protein Food
High-protein foods can keep you up at night because our bodies require more energy and time to digest them properly when inactive. This goes for chicken, red meats, and fish as well. Salami and pepperoni in particular contain tyramine, which activates norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter and hormone that impacts your body’s fight-or-flight response. The last thing you want before dozing off is a randomly intense feeling of wanting to flee your bedroom.
Although foods rich in carbohydrates can speed up the release of tryptophan, the type of bread you eat may have the opposite effect. White bread is a high glycemic index food that can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Its refined carbohydrates will boost your energy, and after peaking, your blood sugar levels will crash during the night. You can still enjoy a slice of evening toast though, just substitute white for wheat bread. High in fiber and complex carbs is not only better for you overall, it’s better for quality sleep.