Have you ever heard that you shouldn't eat before bed? Or maybe you've been told not to eat after a certain time at night?
Either way, the reality is that eating the right foods before bed can actually improve your sleep and metabolism.
Going to bed hungry can make it hard to get a restful night's sleep. A rumbly tummy means tossing and turning, not sleeping through the night and running the risk of burning lean muscle while you sleep. You're also more likely to wake up starving as sleep deprivation stimulates the hormones that regulate hunger, causing you to crave high-calorie foods the next day.
While going to bed hungry is not ideal, neither is going to bed feeling too full. Eating too much, or eating the wrong foods right before bed can also negatively affect your sleep.
Here are foods you should avoid before bed, as well as foods to eat before bed that will help you get some high-quality shut-eye.
Foods to Avoid Right Before Bed
Coffee, Chocolate & Soda: These foods contain caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous system for hours after you consume it making it more difficult to sleep.
Fatty Foods: Fatty foods like pizza, burgers and fries take longer to process and will keep your body up working on digestion rather than relaxing and regenerating.
Sugary Foods: High-sugar foods will make your blood sugar spike and crash, which can interrupt sleep.
Spicy Foods: Your body temperature naturally decreases as you get ready to sleep, but spicy foods contain natural thermogenic properties that raise your body temperature. This makes you feel more awake, and feeling too hot while you are trying to sleep is super uncomfortable.
What to Eat Before Bed for Better Sleep
Gorging on a giant meal before bed causes your body to work overtime to digest your food. So a light snack of about 200 calories is substantial enough to keep hunger pangs in control, but not so heavy that it will disrupt your sleep or cause weight gain. Here are some great bedtime snacks.
Kiwi: This tropical fruit is rich in nourishing antioxidants and vitamins, but also contains serotonin – a sleep hormone that is related to our REM sleep. Low levels of serotonin can contribute to insomnia.
Spinach: This leafy green is full of sleep-inducing nutrients. An easy way to incorporate spinach before bed is to blend it with a bit of almond milk and banana for a small, nutrient-dense nightcap. This light snack won't cause any digestive upset or disrupt your sleep.
Cherries: Aside from their strong anti-inflammatory properties, cherries also contain melatonin, a naturally-produced hormone that signals to our bodies that it's time for bed. Enjoy a small handful of cherries, or drink a small glass of tart cherry juice to help you doze off.
Bananas: This versatile fruit is an excellent source of potassium and magnesium that helps put your body into a sleepy state by helping with muscle relaxation. Bananas also contain tryptophan, which helps create calming and sleep-regulating hormones.
Almonds: These are full of magnesium, which helps your muscles relax. Almonds also contain calcium, which helps the brain convert tryptophan into sleep-inducing melatonin.
Sweet Potatoes: Some say that sweet potatoes are a sleeper's dream, with their natural, easy to digest carbohydrates and muscle-relaxing potassium. A simple sweet potato toast topped with nut butter and sliced banana will help ensure a restful sleep. (Add it to your client’s meal plan here.)
- A Warm, Caffeine-Free Drink: The warm sensation of tea or milk can help you relax and slow your body down. One of my favourite pre-bed drinks is almond milk warmed with a bit of turmeric, cinnamon and honey. Then it's lights out!
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