What To Eat Before Bed And What To Avoid?
There are many methods you can use to increase the quality of your sleep, ranging from exercise and mediation, to high-quality bedding, pillows, mattresses, essential oils and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule. However, many people often overlook is their diet. If you didn’t know what to eat before bed, you will certainly know after reading our guide. It is well known that foods that contain a lot of spices, caffeine and alcohol are a big no-no before bed, but there are many other things you need to avoid if you want to have a good night’s sleep. Following these advice you will improve your sleep and your overall health, because sleep is especially important for improving memory, attention, a longer lifespan, a better immune system, lowering stress and a myriad of other things, both physical and psychological.
When it comes to food, it’s not only the type that you need to take into consideration, it’s also the amount you eat and when you eat it before bed. Here we are going to talk about foods that you should avoid before bed and other that may be beneficial for a good shut-eye. For example, avoid eating right before you lay down, but never go to sleep hungry either. It can be tricky to maintain a schedule where you can eat healthy before bed (especially if you like to have a snack in front of a TV), so keep the portions a bit tinier than usual. Replace your regular high-protein and high-in-fat snacks with healthy snacks like almonds and cereal, and by all means avoid drinking energy drinks, caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
Our top 10 picks for what to eat before bed
There are some food that won’t cause you any problems if you eat it before going to bed.
Bananas are often associated as energy-boost snacks – however they can help you sleep like a baby. High in magnesium and potassium, which help relax muscles, so you can wave goodbye to nights of restless sleep, as they increase serotonin and melatonin in your body which can induce sleepiness.
Another food rich in magnesium and potassium worth mentioning is avocado, so if you’re up for some guacamole before bed, dig in! Foods high in magnesium can affect the quality of your sleep, and also make waking up much easier. The transition between sleeping and getting up in the morning is going to be more seamless – isn’t that a dream come true?
Cherries are a gold mine when it comes to natural sources of melatonin, which your body also produces when it’s time to sleep. However if you have insomnia or other troubles sleeping, a good bedtime snack can be a tiny bowl of cherries. If they’re out of season though, you can also buy cherry juice (the low-sugar kind), or eat sweet corn, oats, or rice, which are all rich in melatonin.
Trying to sleep, but your stomach is growling? Desperate for a midnight snack? Grab a handful of almonds and catch some Z’s afterwards. Besides magnesium, almonds are rich with healthy fats and high in tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino-acid which regulates mood and balances hormones naturally. It can help with anxiety, insomnia, and also help burn more body fat – so, not only are you going to get some quality shut-eye, you’ll start losing weight in the meantime as well.
A turkey sandwich with lettuce and non-fatty condiments is a winner combination for a healthy snack before bed. Turkey meat is one of the best choices when it comes to tryptophan-high foods. It’s not the highest, as beef and pork have higher amounts, but it’s definitely the healthiest, as high-fat foods can induce heartburn and restlessness during night. Chicken has a slightly lower amount of tryptophan, but it’s not a good alternative as it is higher in protein than turkey, which can be harder to digest at night.
Replace sweet potato with whatever it is you’re eating (unless we’ve mentioned it here, of course). Sweet potatoes are rich in magnesium, calcium and potassium – a small portion of baked sweet potatoes (never fried!), can help you relax your mind and muscles. You won’t have troubles counting sheep with this snack!
Unlike green or black tea, chamomile tea contains zero caffeine. If you’re reluctant to avoid drinking a hot beverage before bed, then settle for this. Drinking chamomile tea regularly can give a variety of health benefits: it improves mood, helps with anxiety and depression, improves the quality of your skin and also helps with sleep. It’s all thanks to an antioxidant called apigenin – it binds to some of the receptors in your brain, promoting sleepiness.
The only fatty thing you should be eating is fish – fish like salmon, tuna or trout can help you have a good-quality sleep without worrying about heartburn or restlessness. All these fish are rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation – so grab some salmon after a hard workout and have some good shut-eye afterwards – your muscles will be grateful in the morning. This killer combination of omega-3 acids and vitamin D increase serotonin, and improve overall sleep quality.
Nervous or anxious, and can’t sleep because of it? Grab that jar of honey and have a spoonful of it, or take a warm glass of milk, and sweeten it with honey. You’ll get restful sleep once you’ve eaten a little of it because honey increases insulin levels which allow tryptophan to reach our brain faster. Honey also contains compounds which shut off orexin, a neuropeptide which is responsible for wakefulness, appetite and arousal.
We all know that a warm glass of milk can help you sleep better – but this applies to almost every dairy product, as long as it’s low-fat. So, milk, yoghurt, or even cottage cheese are in the game, as they can all increase melatonin in your body due to their high-in-calcium properties.
Our top 10 picks for what not to eat before bed
If you are a late snack eater, try to avoid the following food and drinks.
Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but it doesn’t improve the quality of your sleep, as it reduces the duration of your REM sleep phase, which is the phase you get the most rest. So, you may take a nightcap before bed, fall asleep faster, but you won’t wake up fully rested at all, no matter how long you slept. Alcohol also increases dehydration which can cause headaches and a myriad of other health issues.
Pizza is number-one favorite midnight snack, but unfortunately, after eating a slice or two you won’t have a good night’s sleep. If you’re hungry and wondering what to eat before bed, drop that phone and take a healthy snack instead. The pizza ingredients, especially tomato sauce on pizza can increase the chances of acid refluxes and heartburn, especially when you lay down. If you didn’t have any other choice but to eat some, try to sleep in a position with your head elevated (if you sleep on your back), or on your left side (because your stomach is positioned in a way that a reflux is less probable to happen because of gravity).
Spicy food increases your metabolism and brain activity – it’s good before an exam, but not before bed. It’s the leading cause of nightmares which are induced by increased brain activity. Spicier foods can also increase your body’s temperature, leaving you restless, sweating and dehydrated. So, whatever you do, avoid any spicy peppers, curry and other stronger spices before bed.
Coffee, green tea, black tea and energy drinks have caffeine levels that are soaring through the roof. They are also famous for increasing anxiety levels, stress and wakefulness, so avoid them by all means before bed. Caffeinated drinks are also diuretics, so you’ll have a very restless night, going in and out of the bathroom, while also feeling dehydrated all the time.
Bacon, pork, and other meats high in fat are going to kill your every will to sleep. The fat contents of bacon are guaranteed to give you heart burn and acid reflux as soon as you lay down, so ease up on bacon as much as you can. All in all – bacon is not recommended in a healthy diet at all – the only thing that it surely helps with is a major hangover. So, wondering what to eat before bed? Certainly not bacon!
Chocolate, especially dark chocolate is high in caffeine. It also contains theobromine, which is a bitter alkaloid that can cause sleeplessness and increase heart rate (this compound is also famous for being dangerous for cats and dogs to ingest, as some amounts can be fatal). If you like to eat some sweet, sweet chocolate before bed, try a tiny piece of white – it contains zero caffeine.
As much as it’s refreshing to have a piece of cold watermelon on a hot night, avoid doing it before bed at all costs. Foods high in water, such as watermelon or celery, are natural diuretics, and can help push through water in your system. However, there is a time and place for that, and it’s not while you’re sleeping. Don’t lose precious sleep time by taking bathroom trips all night long.
A healthy salad with onions can be refreshing and healthy, but not before bed. Avoid onions as they can create gas in your stomach which affects the pressure inside, causing heartburn and acid reflux. Besides, don’t you want to have at least a bearable breath in the morning?
Consuming dried fruit before bed can cause gasses and cramps in your stomach during the night, so you might toss and turn in hope to find a good position. The dried fruit is high in fiber, but low in water, so they might cause you to also dehydrate. Remember to remove them from your oats if you decide to eat some before bed.
Ice cream may help you relax and seem like a cool snack in the evening, but it’s usually very high in sugar and fat which can affect the way you sleep afterwards. You won’t have time to burn all those calories before you get to sleep, so you’ll feel restless, all the while the excess sugar gets stored and turned into fat, so you’ll be also gaining weight.
So, have you decided what to eat before bed now?
Keeping healthy isn’t that hard – and sleep is one of the most important aspects of healthy living. If keeping up with a healthier snack before bed seems harder than it looks, try to create a weekly menu consisted of all the foods and beverages we mentioned. This will make it easier to decide on what to eat before bed. It can be oats with honey and bananas if you’re a sweet tooth, or an avocado and salmon sandwich – the options are infinite, so we’re sure you will find a combination suitable to your style.