If you're like me, then one of your hobbies is staring into the refrigerator and wondering what to eat before bed. It often feels like quite the big decision as I try to remember whether or not it's OK to eat before bed, much less which foods are OK to eat. I often give up, and go stalking off to bed, sans midnight snack.
So isn't it good news for us late night snackers that eating before bed is not only OK, but encouraged? If you can choose the right foods, you'll go to bed fully satiated, and ready to sleep through the night. Some foods even make it easier to sleep, and what could be better than that?
To help break it down further, I reached out to Lauren Minchen, a nutritionist on GoodLooks, for her take on what's best to eat before bed. "I generally recommend staying away from anything but proteins, nuts, seeds, fruits or veggies before bed. And some who are particularly sensitive to sugar intake may also want to avoid fruit," Minchen says. "I love lean slices of chicken or turkey with avocado, two string cheese sticks with an apple, 1/4 cup nuts and seeds mix, a small cottage cheese, or a small bowl of berries and/or melon before bed. These are all either protein, fat, or fiber rich foods that fight inflammation (which can also elevate cortisol) and support a healthy blood sugar balance."
With your body stocked up and balanced on such good nutrition, you'll be sleeping like a baby until morning. Here are some other sleep-inducing snacks to consider before you hit the hay.
1. Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice may seem like a kind of a weird choice, but trust me when I say it can help with sleep. That's because cherries contain melatonin, a chemical that helps control your body's internal clock. In fact, one study found that drinking tart cherry juice resulted in small improvements in sleep duration and quality in adults who suffered from chronic insomnia, according to Amanda Gardner said on Health. If nothing else, cherry juice is delicious, and therefore totally worth a try.
2. A Fatty Fish
If you have some leftover fish from dinner, go ahead and pop it in the microwave for a sleep-inducing midnight snack. "Wild fish contains vitamin B6, which is needed to create melatonin," Minchen says. Just don't go overboard, since protein is difficult to digest and can make sleeping more difficult.
3. Guacamole & Chips
Here's your new excuse to justify those late night trips to the kitchen for some guac and chips. Avocados contain magnesium, which has been shown to help with sleep. As Katie Golde said on Greatist.com, "In one study of older adults with insomnia, magnesium had a positive effect on the quality of their sleep, like the length of time they slept and their ease in waking up (among other factors)."
4. Crunchy Popcorn
Yes, another late night snack justification. This time it's popcorn, with it's amazing ability to induce sleep. According to Jessica Migala on Prevention, "The carbs in popcorn stimulate the release of insulin, which has been proven to control your circadian clock, according to a new study on mice published in the journal Cell Reports." So get to snacking, and then to sleeping.
5. Jasmine Rice
Adding some jasmine rice to your snacking repertoire may also help you drift off to dreamland. As Gardner said, "A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming jasmine rice four hours before bedtime cut the amount of time it took to fall asleep in half when compared with eating a high-glycemic-index meal at the same time interval. The authors speculate that high-glycemic-index meals may up the production of tryptophan."
6. A Container Of Yogurt
Run to the grocery store right now and stock up on yogurt, as it might just help you get to sleep. That's because dairy products like yogurt and milk contain healthy doses of calcium, which can actually assist your body in using the amino acid, tryptophan, increasing sleepiness, according to Minchen. So stock up, and start boosting your calcium levels.
7. A Big Bowl Of (Fortified) Cereal
Sadly, I'm not talking about your go-to sugary cereal, but instead one that is all kinds of healthy (and real). As Minchen says, "Whole grains (not in flour form) ... contain magnesium, which can aid in sleep." Read those labels, and look for the options with actual whole grains.
8. Some Walnuts
Another option is a handful of walnuts, as they also contain the magic of melatonin. As Migala said, "... eating them has been proven to increase levels in your blood, according a study in Nutrition." Grab a few, and head off to snack away in bed.
9. A Ripe Banana
A banana is a quick and easy thing to grab whilst you stroll of to bed. They help promote sleep with their high doses of magnesium and potassium, which are both natural muscle-relaxants.Plus, they contain carbs, which help make you sleepy, according to Gardner.
10. Cheese & Crackers
Here's a good combo snack idea, if you're looking for one. Cheese and crackers, or any carb/protein combo, can do wonders for sleep. "Breads, crackers, pastas, or rice combined with a protein, like turkey, eggs, or low-fat dairy, may be the perfect combination for a pre-sleep snack," Golde said.
11. A Cup Of Soup
There's not much science here — soup is simply warm and comforting. And what could be better than that? As Migala said, "Go for ones that are easy to digest; smooth soups like butternut squash or broth-based ones like chicken noodle are good bets (but avoid tough-to-digest versions like lentil or bean)."
And with that, I hope you join me in some fine, late-night snacking. After all, it may just guarantee a good night's rest.
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