Sleeping and eating, two of the best parts of the day! But what you eat and when you eat it plays a large role in how well you’re sleeping! Our food choices help to regulate our circadian rhythms. Eating the right food at the right time is important for keeping our bodies and brains on schedule. Try to eat meals during the daylight hours, so that when it’s darker, your body has already done the bulk of digesting and can focus on promoting restful sleep. When you eat too close to bedtime, your body has to work harder to digest the food instead of allowing you to get restful and restorative sleep. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best and worst foods to eat before bedtime.
Best sleep foods: Eat these closer to bedtime to help prepare for a restful night. Light snacks can be enjoyed 2-3 hours before your head hits the pillow!
- Cherries – one of the few melatonin-containing foods and melatonin is important for the sleep cycle. One study found that adults with chronic insomnia had improved sleep when they drank some tart cherry juice before bed. So snack on a few cherries before hitting the hay!
- Complex Carbs – eating complex carbs, like sweet potatoes or starchy root vegetables four hours before bed has shown to improve sleep quality. Because complex carbs take longer to break down, blood sugar stays more stable throughout the night, which improves sleep.
- Bananas – Bananas contain potassium and magnesium, which play a key role in helping muscles relax. Bananas are also a source of carbs, which make you feel sleepy.
- Herbal Teas – Herbal teas like valerian and chamomile have been shown to help people fall asleep faster. There is a debate about whether it is the teas themselves or the powerful ritual of adding them to a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Almonds – raw almonds contain tryptophan and magnesium, which both have a powerful role in helping you sleep. Tryptophan eventually gets converted into melatonin and magnesium helps the body relax.
Worst sleep foods: These are foods that should be enjoyed in moderation and long before lights out.
- Coffee – This one should be obvious. Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system, causing you to be more alert. Have your last cup at LEAST 6 hours before bedtime.
- Dark Chocolate – In addition to containing caffeine, dark chocolate contains theobromine, which increases heart rate and sleeplessness.
- Alcohol – Although it acts as a sedative, alcohol is terrible for sleep. It greatly diminishes the quality of sleep AND promotes snoring. So have your last libation at LEAST 3 before bedtime and make sure to hydrate!
- Protein – This is more about eating a balanced dinner. When you sleep, digestion should slow by 50%, but when you eat just protein, digestion slows even more. So instead of your body’s resources being used for sleep and repair, the body is still working on digestion. Add some complex carbs to a meal to balance this out. Aim to finish dinner 3-4 hours before bedtime.
-McGarty and Associates