What to Eat and Avoid Eating Before Bedtime
Health experts recommend people avoid eating between two and four hours before they go to sleep, but going to bed hungry causes problems. As the body sends out signals to the brain that you are hungry, it’s harder to fall asleep peacefully and stay asleep. Here are some foods that are okay to eat before bedtime because they have a reduced impact on your quality of sleep:
- Greek yogurt – With lots of protein and less sugar than other styles of yogurt, Greek yogurt helps satisfy your dairy craving before bed without dramatically increasing your heartbeat.
- Peanut butter and wheat bread – If you are hungry for something more substantial, try eating an open-faced peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread. Peanut butter is high in protein and healthy, unsaturated fats. Wheat bread offers fiber and more complex carbohydrates than white bread, keeping your blood-sugar levels stable while you sleep.
- Banana – With only 100 calories per fruit, bananas are a great source of nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy. Potassium is needed to contract muscles throughout the day, and pectin is a significant source of fiber that helps with your body’s digestion.
- Turkey – This lean cut of meat contains more tryptophan than other types of deli meat, and it’s lower in fat, saving you calories. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin which breaks down into melatonin, the chemical in your brain that makes you sleepy.
Foods to Avoid
Research indicates that if you go to bed hungry and wake up ravenous, you are more likely to eat an unhealthy breakfast and start the day with poor nutrition. Instead of fighting yourself through the unnecessary, internal struggle of deciding whether or not you should eat before bed, choose a healthy snack. Here are some foods to avoid because they make sleep worse:
- Pizza – The crust is quickly broken down into glucose which elevates blood-sugar levels and stimulates the body to be more active. Grease from toppings and cheese cause the body to focus on digesting instead of sleeping.
- Burgers – Many places that stay open late at night have a similar menu: burgers and fries. Even without the bun, this pre-bedtime snack is full of nutrients that prevent your body from sleeping well.
- Alcohol – You may think of it as a “nightcap,” but alcohol makes falling asleep much more difficult. When you do finally fall asleep, the toxic effects of alcohol keep you from sleeping deeply, and you wake up feeling more tired.
- Chocolate – Dark chocolate is credited with many health benefits, but helping you fall asleep isn’t one. Caffeine and sugar from chocolate both stimulate the body and reduce your quality of sleep.