Even after eating a series of well-portioned meals throughout the day, sometimes, we still get hungry before bed. Some argue against eating before bed as it can disrupt your sleep. This is partly true—eating the wrong foods can hurt your ability to fall or stay asleep. However, there are some foods that, if consumed before bed, can actually help you fall asleep.
I’ve spent time experimenting with foods that have the potential to help me sleep better, and through this experimentation, I’ve also discovered which foods to avoid at all costs before bed. Here are five foods to eat, and five to avoid, before bed.
Five Foods to Eat Before Bed for Better Sleep
Almonds are a great source of healthy fats, but when it comes to sleep, they can definitely help. Almonds contain tryptophan and magnesium, which together reduce nerve- and muscle function and steady your heart rate, making it easier to fall asleep.
2. Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
If you’re focused on building muscle mass, eating fat-free Greek yogurt before bed can definitely help. One study showed that consuming protein before bed increased protein synthesis rates in healthy older men, which is what leads to increased muscle growth. Since fat-free Greek yogurt has around 20 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, it’s a great pre-bedtime snack for muscle growth.
3. Whole Grain Oats
Whole grain oats will keep your blood sugar stable so you don’t go to bed hungry. A small bowl before bed will fill your body with necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that promote the production of melatonin—a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles.
4. A Turkey Sandwich
Have you ever noticed that you feel extra tired after a Thanksgiving meal? Part of this is because you’re extremely full and your body is trying to digest the food. But it’s also partly because turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which, when paired with carbohydrates, can make you feel tired. A turkey sandwich is a perfect way to get that turkey and carb pairing that can stimulate a desire for sleep.
Not only do they taste great, but bananas are a great pre-bedtime snack because they contain magnesium, which naturally relaxes your muscles. They also contain serotonin and melatonin, which help regulate sleep patterns.
Five Foods to Avoid Before Bed
You may feel like you fall asleep faster after a night out drinking, but in reality, the quality of sleep you’re getting isn’t what it could be. Alcohol stops you from falling into a deep sleep, which is an important part of getting real rest and is why you might feel miserable the next day if you had a few too many beers.
Not only should coffee be avoided just before bed, but ideally you should avoid coffee (or any caffeine consumption) anytime in the afternoon. Caffeine can stay in your body for up to 10 hours, which means a 3 pm coffee can make it harder to fall asleep even at 10 pm that night. To keep your energy levels up throughout the day, try having coffee with lunch instead of during your afternoon slump.
3. Fatty Foods
Fatty foods are harder to digest, and if your body is working too hard to digest food, it’s harder to get into a resting state. Additionally, fatty foods can cause heartburn, which makes falling asleep even more of a challenge. While I did mention almonds above for their sleep-inducing benefits, since nuts are high in fat, it’s best to consume them in small quantities.
Apparently, many people experience strange dreams when they consume cheese before bed. This might be because cheese contains tyramine, an amino acid that keeps the brain in an alert state. In addition to odd dreams, by keeping the brain in an alert state, tyramine can make it harder to fall asleep.
Like coffee, chocolate contains caffeine. While it doesn’t contain as much as coffee, putting chocolate syrup on your ice cream or eating a few pieces of chocolate before bed can be enough to keep you from falling asleep. If you’re in the habit of eating chocolate as a part of your dessert and are having trouble falling asleep, eliminating it from your late-night snack might fix the problem.
Although some foods are better than others when it comes to getting a good night sleep, remember that any food in large quantities can disrupt your sleep. If you need an evening snack or a late-night meal, opt for a small portion. And for a great night’s sleep try to stop eating two to three hours before bedtime.
Nicholas Rubright is the digital marketing specialist for Grans Remedy — a product that helps eliminate foot odor for those with active lifestyles.